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AN ANALYSIS .':: -,
ACTIVITIES AND POTENTIAIffJES
FOR ACHIEVEMENT OF THE ^
PARENT- TEACHER ASSOCIATION
ELMER S. HOLBECK, Ph. D.
TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
CONTRIBUTIONS TO EDUCATION
PUBLISHED WITH THE APPROVAL OF
Professor Willard S. Elsbree, Sponsor
BUREAU OF PUBLICATIONS
NEW YORK CITY
BY ELMER S. HOLBECK
PRINTED AT THE Country Life Press, GARDEN CITY, N. Y., u. s. A
L T is the purpose of this study to evaluate, in terms of accomplish
ment and potentialities for accomplishment, the aims, activities,
program, and work of the Parent-Teacher Association.
The development and growth of the Parent-Teacher Association
have been marked by opposition and struggle. Much criticism
has been heaped upon it. Many educators and lay citizens alike
have viewed the movement with suspicion. Others have sought
to promote and stimulate its growth, but largely through faith in
its potentialities rather than from admiration of its actual accom
plishment. Its diffusion of interests, its failure to achieve a clear-
cut relation with the educational system, its often poorly conceived
and inefficient methods, have retarded and inhibited its influence
and have given the casual observer only too much reason to believe
that it had no importance.
This is not the whole story, however. The primary purpose of
the organization to coordinate the work of home and school for
the welfare of the child capitalizes a community of interest on the
part of parents and teachers which has an enormously high emo
tional appeal. When to a purpose of such social significance is
added the fact that the phenomenal number of over 1,500,000
individuals are officially recorded as members of Parent-Teacher
Associations in this country, it is apparent that the organization
deserves much more than superficial examination and that it
probably has a potential importance of considerable magnitude.
It is, furthermore, one of the few examples in the United States
of spontaneously initiated local community activity with volunteer
leadership. It has weathered the vicissitudes of over seventy years <
of growth and expansion. It has had an influence on educational f
legislation, on public opinion regarding education and on the con- ;
ception of the parent's rdle in education. Whether it will in the
future rise to the full potency of its possible influence, depends to
a great extent on the ^nethods and techniques which the Associ
ations work out for themselves in the next few years. It is the
*ifig e3fetmg'|ifacll6es e frthis direction.
Diffi^u&ds it is to make an evaluation of an organization with
such an unusual disparity between potentialities and achievements,
it is distinctly worth while to attempt it at the present time. In
the past a concerted effort was made to keep the work of the Associ
ations unimportant and unobtrusive, but this evasive attitude
cannot be justified in a period when education has become a science
no less than an art. This movement, in spite of its obvious weak
nesses, has become an enterprise with which the modern educator
must reckon. It is time for its potentialities to be generally ad
mitted and for educators to join with parents in working on ways
and means of assisting the organizations to reach them. The
successful integration of the work of this organization with the
work of the school, where it has been accomplished, has promoted
so definitely the welfare of the child and the community that,
despite the numerous difficulties such an effort presents, it should
be attempted more generally. It is hoped that the facts and recom
mendations here presented will serve in some measure to encourage
the educators and parents who elect to embark on this adventurous
JLHE author desires to acknowledge his indebtedness to Professor
Willard S. Elsbree, for his constant assistance and inspiration dur
ing the writing of the dissertation. He wishes also to express
grateful appreciation to Dr. Jesse H. Newlon and Dr. James R.
McGaughy for their constructive criticisms and stimulating sug
To Mrs. Maria L. Rogers, formerly of the United Parents Associ
ation, whose many suggestions and criticisms were invaluable, the
writer is extremely grateful.
The author is also indebted to Mrs. Arthur C. Watkins, field
secretary of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers for her
many suggestions and careful reading of parts of the manuscript
and to Dr. Julian E. Butterworth of Cornell University for his
many constructive criticisms and suggestions found in his writings
on Parent-Teacher Association work.
Without the cooperation of the National Congress of Parents
and Teachers, United Parents Association, Virginia Cooperative
Association and many other independent associations, the work
would not have been possible.
Appreciation is also expressed to the following ten cooperating
presidents in the field: Mrs. Johanna Mosenthal, New York City;
Mrs. Alonzo Knapp, Port Chester, N. Y.; Mrs. H. H. Lieblich,
Newark, N. J.; Mrs. Harry F. Maxman, Mountain View, N. J.;
Mrs. Joseph V. Schnupp, East Port Chester, Conn.; Mrs. Joseph
F. Schnugg, Hackensack, N. J.; Mrs. Robert Swank, Jackson
Heights, L. L; Mrs. Theodore Kuh, New York City; Mrs. H. E.
Seim, Bridgeport, Conn. ; and Mrs. E. P. Bodine, Fairfield, Conn.
To Mr. Jacob Theobald, Mrs. B. F. Lansworthy, First Vice
President of National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Mrs.
Adolph Kroll, President of Woodrow Wilson School. Parent-
Teacher Association, Passaic, N. J., Miss Isabel Haggerty, Super
visor, Passaic, N. J., Miss Thelma G. Paruta, Miss Florence B.
Childs, Miss Alice D. Morgan, and Mr. Rudolph Graf, the author
expresses Ms deep appreciation for their very helpful assistance.
To the hundred association presidents throughout the country
and the many Parent-Teacher Association officials and educators,
too numerous to mention, he feels especially obligated.
To Ms wife, Lydia S. Holbeck, for her assistance and unfailing
inspiration and encouragement during the painstaking work of
writing the dissertation, the author will always be grateful.
E. S. H.
I. THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY 1
II. GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PARENT-
TEACHER ASSOCIATION 3
III. ORGANIZATION OF PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
AND ITS RELATION TO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION. . . 20
IV. PUBLICITY AND FINANCE IN PARENT-TEACHER
V. FUNCTIONS, PURPOSES, AND ACTIVITIES OF THE
PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION 48
VI. CASE STUDIES 57
VII. THE UNIT OF WORK IN PROGRAM PLANNING FOR
THE PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION 77
VIII. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS. . 95
APPENDIX. TABLES AND CHARTS, OUTLINE, RATING SCALE,
AND QUESTIONNAIRE, 103
THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY
JINCE it is the purpose of this study to analyze the objectives^
purposes, and functions of the Parent-Teacher Association, the
plan of work followed has been, first, to study the historical de-
of the association since its inception, its organization,
^relationship to the school and its publicity and finance ac~
is; second, to analyze the actual relation existing between the
of function and purpose held by the leaders in Parent-
Association work and in educational thought and theory
ted States, and the activities engaging the attention of
the local Associations.
Attention will be directed to the type of work done by ten
Parent-Teacher Associations selected for case studies, and a chap
ter will be devoted to a proposed plan for unifying the program
of an Association in a manner similar to the Unit of Work system
now used so widely in the schools throughout the United States.
There will also be included a list of specific recommendations de
signed to increase the efficiency and social value of the Parent-
Since it appears that the major number of members of Parent-
Teacher Associations in the United States have joined the National
Congress of Parents and Teachers, which is the official national
organization, close attention has been given to this body. But as
some of the most interesting and original work in this field is carried
on by local Associations which are not members of the National
Congress, the available material relating to their activities has also
been carefully studied.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, through its
county and state branches, numbers 1,511,20s 1 members of local
Parent-Teacher Associations, organized in 20,000 units scattered
throughout 47 states of the Union, Hawaii and Alaska. These
units, composed of parents and teachers, are autonomous local
Associations, organized in each school. Thousands of other units
'LFigure quoted by National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Washington, D. C. 1931.
2 The Parent-Teacher Association
are affiliated in State Associations, independent of the National
Congress of Parents and Teachers, such as the State Improvement
League of Maine, the South Carolina School Improvement Associ
ation, the Virginia Cooperative Education Association; and de
centralized independent units exist in every state in the Union.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers has been unable
to estimate these independent units. 2 It has, however, made
some attempt through its own units to assemble information about
those independent Associations existing as separate or distinct
units or as part of a larger group or council. The program of the
independent groups and of the state federations mentioned above,
is undoubtedly comparable in importance to that of the units
which are members of the National Congress of Parents and Teach
ers, which for brevity will hereafter be referred to as the National
Data utilized for this study have been: Reports, programs and
literature of ^e^jnde^oiJ^tjunits and the State Associations,
together with publications, proceedings, and reports of the National
Congress and its state branches.
A questionnaire was sent to 275 Parent-Teacher Associations
selected at random throughout the United States in order to obtain
direct information about the status and working plan of typical
groups. Of the 110 questionnaires returned, the information of
100 which were intelligently prepared was selected and used in this
study. A personal intensive investigation of the work done by ten
selected Parent-Teacher Associations in three different states was
conducted by the author. The case studies of these ten Associ
ations will be found in the body of the work, coupled with an
evaluation of their social value to the community.
Other studies in the field, magazine articles, and check lists were
also used in assembling facts and material. Many original data
were assembled by the author during his personal observation and
study of many Associations.
*See Appendix, Table A.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE
consideration of the growth and development of the Parent-
Teacher Association will cover four aspects of the movement one,
the history of the early beginnings; two, its diffusion abroad; three,
the formation of the National Congress; and, four, the recent
developments which mark changes in its character and program.
The Parent-Teacher Association movement, according to the
most reliable accounts, seems to have had its beginnings in the
United States as early as 1855. Following the development of the
kindergarten, there arose a feeling that mothers and teachers could
do more for the children by working together. This feeling was
first expressed only in informal mothers' meetings, but it soon de
veloped into more formal organizations such as Parents* Leagues,
Mothers' Unions, Pre-School Circles, and Reading Councils, all
of which were part of a movement which was wholly spontaneous
and had no expressed philosophy. It simply filled a definite need
felt by some parents and educators for a better understanding of
the child in relation to school and society.
These isolated units in some states gradually felt the need for
exchange of opinions, for the strength that comes from concerted
action of many groups working together, and the result was the
formation of state associations in Maine, South Carolina, Pennsyl
vania, Illinois, California, Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and
The Maine Improvement League is typical of a number of state
associations in states whose population is predominately rural. It
is concerned with the problems of rural schools and through its
operation school grounds are improved and decorated. The South
Carolina School Improvement Association no longer exists as a
state unit but there are numerous independent associations scat
tered all over the state. The aim of this Association is the im
itate School Improvement Association, Rural School Pamphlet No. 42, U. S. Bureau of
Education, Washington, D. C., 1927.
4 The Parent-Teacher Association
provement of material and equipment through the raising and
supplying of funds. With the help of this Association most of the
schools are well housed and well equipped. In addition, a pro
gram for the consolidation of schools has been executed successfully
by most of the state associations.
Another very flourishing and effective state organization is the
Cooperative Education Association of Virginia, composed of 1,738
units and 82,762 members. 2 It was organized in 1904 to " advance
social, spiritual, moral, physical, civic, and economic interests of
the community." It claims to unite the official and unofficial
leaders of the state in a great cooperative effort, by unifying all
the educational forces with a view to utilizing their combined wis
dom and strength in reinforcing the efforts of the state and local
school authorities in the matter of perfecting the public school
system of Virginia. A former executive secretary of the Associ
ation emphasizes the importance of its work in the following state
Through the leagues the latent forces of our State are stimulated into action.
The power which makes the school go is the sentiment which exists in the
community. From a few struggling organizations in 1904 there are now 1,833
leagues in the State of Virginia. During that time the amount of money
spent in public education and school buildings has increased over 500 per
cent. Training and salaries of teachers have also increased several hundred
per cent. . . In every community there has been a loyal band of men and
women with a vision of better things for their schools and communities, and
it is this leaven that hath leavened our whole society. 8
But thousands of local Parent-Teacher Associations never united
with these state associations. This has been true in the larger
cities. A similar condition exists in other urban areas. In some
cities independent federations limited to the area have grown up.
An example is the United Parents Associations of New York City,
which numbers one hundred and fifty associations in its member
The programs of these city federations may vary considerably in
the different localities. Sometimes they are limited to monthly
conferences and occasional work as a joint unit on special edu
cational projects. The United Parents Associations above re
ferred to have gone beyond this restricted program and furnish
Includes 1,004 Junior leagues and 8,732 leagues for Adults. The Community League News,
Richmond, Virginia, 1932.
^Report. Twentieth Anniversary of the Cooperative League of Virginia, 1924, Page 101
Growth and Development 5
skilled assistance to local associations on all phases of local work,
and have taken the leadership in assisting the member associations
to carry on programs of parent education.
A new development in recent years has been the formation of
parents* groups for the exclusive purpose of parent education.
These exist in many cities along the Eastern seaboard and in some
cases, as in Philadelphia, they have formed local branches of the
Child Study Association of America.
Sometimes parents whose children attend private schools have
formed a league devoted exclusively to the problems of such
schools. Examples are the Parents League of New York and the
Parents League of Brooklyn. There are others of the same type.
It is extremely difficult to present briefly the many directions these
groups have taken. The variation is almost bewildering. But
enough has probably been said here to indicate both their variety
and the characteristic all have in common that of a nice
adaptation to the specific needs of the members composing the
When we come to the National Congress the picture is simplified
immediately, as is always the case when an official organization is
considered. In 1896, Mrs. Alice McLillan Birney conceived of a
Congress of Mothers. This had as its objective the study of the
care and training of children, and was the first official recognition
on the part of parents that parenthood was a profession necessitat
ing study and training. On February 17, 1897, Mrs. Birney's idea
became a fact and the National Congress of Mothers was organized
with Mrs. Birney as its first president. Its appeal was instantane
ous, and state branches were organized everywhere and speedily
affiliated with the national organization. Independent Parent-
Teacher Associations already existing in Pennsylvania, Illinois,
and California also joined forces with the national body.
At first it was the purpose of the Congress merely to organize
groups of mothers for the study of the child. A few of these groups
were organized in churches. Others were associated with the
kindergartens or the public schools. Some were neighborhood
groups. According to Mason, 4 the Parent-Teacher movement
developed into types of Associations, all differing somewhat in
membership and methods of work. The different types within
the National Congress of Parents and Teachers are briefly classified
*Mason, M. S. Parents and Teachers. Ginn and Company, New York, 1928. Page 150.
6 The Parent-Teacher Association
under the following heads : Pre-school Associations ; Parent-Teacher
Associations in elementary schools; Parent-Teacher Associations
in high schools; Mothers' Clubs; Fathers' Clubs; Study Circles;
Parent-Teacher Associations in churches; and Parent-Teacher
Associations in colleges.
But in time the Congress saw the necessity of associating in a
helpful and intimate way the two social institutions exercising the
most direct influence upon the cMld, the home and the school
There was therefore apparent a need for continuing the work into
the elementary school and for joining in a common effort the
elementary teachers as well as the mothers. To this end the Con
gress then entered upon a national movement for the organization
of Parent-Teacher Associations. This phase of the work grew so
rapidly that, in order that it might be directed more effectively, a
special department in charge of it was created within the Congress.
At this point we may note the preponderance of elementary
school organizations over all others. 5 This is partially accounted
for by the fact that the elementary school is the most widely dis
tributed educational agency; by the fact, also, that for many years
the Congress emphasized elementary school organization; and
perhaps it may also be explained by the fact that the elementary
school child is at an age at which the mothers are easily interested
in him and in his welfare.
In 1908 the name of the Congress was changed by vote to The
National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations,
and in 1915 the charter was amended to legalize this name. In
1924 the name was changed again, this time to that which it bears
to-day, The National Congress of Parents and Teachers. This
change was felt to be necessary because membership in the Con
gress is individual and because of the growth of interest on the
part of fathers as well as mothers in the work of the Parent-Teacher
Commenting on the inception of the Parent-Teacher Association
movement, Butterworth 7 says: "Its original purposes included
the education of parents for child development, the cooperation
of home and school, the promotion of the kindergarten movement,
sSee Appendix, Table B.
6 Handbook for Parent-Teacher Associations. The National Congress of Parents and Teachers,
1931. Page 56.
'Butterworth, J. E. The Parent-Teacher Association and Its Work, The Macmillan Com
pany, 1929. Page 7.
Growth and Development 7
the securing of legislation for neglected and dependent children
and the education of young people for parenthood."
Speaking of the potentialities of the movement, Mrs. Birney,
the founder, said in her first address to the Congress in 1897 : 8
The age in which we live is a time for specialized work and organized effort.
It has therefore seemed to us good that the highest and holiest of all missions,
motherhood, the family interest upon which rests the entire superstructure
of human life and the element which may be designated as the foundation of
the entire social fabric, should now be the subject of our earnest, reverent,
This need of "earnest, reverent, consideration," expressed by
Mrs. Birney and generally felt throughout the United States, was
not, however, confined to the United States. Other countries
soon followed the example set. But their work has so far not pro
gressed beyond a stage comparable to the initial stages of the
Before turning to a consideration of the further development
of the Parent-Teacher Association idea in America, let us consider
briefly the movement as it is found in foreign countries.
Canada, following the example of the United States, initiated
Parent-Teacher Associations throughout the provinces. Parent
Councils provided for by law are found in Germany, Danzig, and
Austria. Poland, Paraguay, Holland, Belgium, Bulgaria, and
Australia all have officially recognized Parent Councils. Cuba
has 1,373 associations of Parents, Neighbors, and Teachers.
Mexico had a large number of isolated Parent-Teacher Associations
but in 1928 these were formed into a large National Council. The
investigation by the International Bureau of Education, Geneva,
1927-1928, shows in addition a widespread growth of private
school associations. In England there is the Parents' National
Educational Union, and in France the National Union of Parents
Despite this fairly large array of examples, it may nevertheless
be stated that the movement in foreign countries is still in its in
fancy. The report of the International Bureau lists a number
of reasons for the slow and unproductive growth of the movement
in foreign lands. Among these are:
^Twenty Years Work for Child Welfare, 4897~l9i7. The National Congress of Parents and
Teachers. Page 4.
$ The Parent-Teacher Association
1. Friction and discord due to lack of education and interest in
pedagogical questions on the part of parents.
2. In England there are already too many societies and as a result
schoolmasters are unwilling to accept advice or assistance from the
3. In Norway the Supervising Committee of Parents is antago
nistic to teachers.
4. In India a wide gulf separates the generations.
5. In South Africa educational authorities are already subject
to public control.
6. In France politics, the breach between secondary and primary
schools, and the ignorance of teachers as to the merits of school
and home cooperation, all serve to militate against such a move
However, in the opinion of the writer, these reasons are super
ficial. The really important factor which has militated against
the successful adoption of the American Parent-Teacher Associa
tion plan in foreign countries probably is the fact that the philoso
phy of the educational system in the United States differs radically
from that which is held in foreign countries. It is built about a
democratic ideal of education which found its first expression in
the conception of the " Little Red Schoolhouse." From this "Little
Red Schoolhouse" has developed a system of education in which
each state sets minimum standards, and development and con
trol are left largely to the local community. In foreign countries,
on the other hand, there is a nationally integrated educational
system with authority vested not in the community but in a na
tional body. This difference in educational theory as well as a
difference in social ideals makes it next to impossible successfully
to adapt the American Parent-Teacher Association system to
foreign countries. Full cooperation there between school and
home would require considerable modification of educational
philosophy, and although there is in foreign countries a stirring
interest in the complete education of the whole child, the Parent-
Teacher Associations there find themselves beset with difficulties
which trouble the associations in the United States only slightly.
Typical of the rather superficial consideration given to the pro
found racial and cultural differences which have affected and will
affect the development of this movement in foreign countries is
this comment, made by a past president of the National Congress of
Growth and Development 9
Parents and Teachers and President of the International Federa
tion of Home and School, which was founded in Toronto in 1927:
We realize fully that each nation must work out its own programme, and
we in the United States have no desire to claim that our plan is perfect or the
one which everyone shall follow. But we do know by experience that it
works well with a great variety of nationalities. We have in our National
Congress groups speaking Spanish, Japanese, Russian, etc. So you see we
have worked out something which is not only Anglo-Saxon but which is adapt
able to many points of view. 9
It is obvious to any sociologically trained observer that the
foreign-speaking groups which have joined the Parent-Teacher
Association in the United States are making an adaptation to
American conditions, whereas in their own countries they might
have behaved quite differently.
Following its inception here the movement was greeted with
great enthusiasm. Something of this and something of the under
lying philosophy, the early objectives, and proposals, are seen in the
first effort to enlist support for its cause. This appeal was sent to
all the leading women's clubs in the country. It follows:
The first National Congress of Mothers will be held in Washington, D. C.,
February 17, 18, 19, 1897. Washington has been selected as the most fitting
place for such an assemblage because the movement is one of national impor
tance and because the city offers many advantages in other ways.
The originator of the present project, believing in the necessity for or
ganized and earnest effort on the part of the mothers of the land concerning
questions most vital to the welfare of their children and the manifold interests
of the home, presented the subject at some of the Mothers' meetings at Chau-
tauqua in the summer of 1895. The earnest enthusiasm with which it was
received made it evident that the thought needed only to be disseminated in
order to be quickly accepted and acted upon by hosts of conscientious, think
ing women throughout the world, and to result in a centralization of then-
power toward the accomplishment of great and necessary reforms in the
interests of humanity.
It is universally admitted that feminine influence has been a mighty factor
for good in all ages and, therefore, incalculable benefit may be expected from
the assemblage of many women for the interchange of views and the study
of home problems which can be solved by women alone.
It is proposed to have the Congress consider subjects bearing upon the
better and broader spiritual and physical as well as mental training of the
young, such as the value of kindergarten work and the extension of its prin-
Rcmlts of an Investigation Undertaken by the International Bureau, of Education, Gcnew,
4927-28. Page 4.
10 The Parent-Teacher Association
ciples to more advanced studies, a love of humanity and of country, the
physical and mental evils resulting from some of the present methods of our
schools, and the advantages to follow from a closer relationship between the
influence of the home and school. 10
Following this appeal the National Congress grew steadily.
In 1900 seven states were affiliated with the movement. By 1920
every state with the single exception of Nevada had a comprehen
sive state organization. The growth in membership also is note
worthy. In 1912 there were 31,672 members. In 1921 member
ship was 278,721, and by 1931 it had grown to 1,511,203, with
Associations numbering over 20,000. u But, as noted above, it has
not by any means included all of the Parent-Teacher Associations
in its membership.
The history of the Parent-Teacher Association cannot be written
without a brief glance at the cultural setting in which it has de
veloped. The scope of this study naturally permits no more than
a mere enumeration of some of the factors which have reacted
upon this movement. The year 1855, when the first mothers'
clubs were formed, is close to the period from which we usually
date the emergence of those profound changes in our national
industrial life which have completely altered our material environ
ment, namely, the onset of the Civil War. These material
changes, however, were not the only ones. Population concen
tration in big cities, revolutionary changes in the status of women,
new concepts of government and social life, new forms of entertain
ment and amusement, have marked this period. Educational
theory and practice, also, have reflected these changes and have in
turn influenced their character.
The change in the status and interests of women and the new
educational theories are all that concern us directly in this study.
Women were largely set free from the drudgery of pioneer days.
Their new leisure was immediately utilized in widening their
horizons. Most of this early effort took place through the women's
clubs. They began to get a picture of the complexity of modern
civilization of which, when safely immured within the four walls
of their homes, they had been blissfully ignorant. They began to
feel responsible for remedying the ugly aspects of this civilization.
^Through the Years. National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Washington, D. C., 1930.
"A table showing the growth of the Congress units may be obtained from the National Con
gress of Parents and Teachers, 1201 16th Street N. W., Washington, D. C.
Growth and Development II
Their leaders demanded the suffrage, universal peace, abolition of
child labor, prohibition of drinking, and so forth. Those women
who were not drawn into a consideration of world affairs felt pro
foundly uneasy about the changes which affected their homes and
their children's welfare. New educational theories were in the air
which they did not understand and toward which they often were
antagonistic. The motion picture, amusement parks, dance halls,
were forms of entertainment which removed their children from the
narrow neighborhood circle and drew them away from the shelter
of the home attitudes. It became more and more difficult not to
take into account a host of factors which affected the children and
of which the parents had no first-hand knowledge. The impact
of these new community conditions reacted on the children and
made life infinitely more complex for the growing child and the
adolescent than had perhaps ever been true in the world before.
He found himself at the mercy of conflicting attitudes of social
behavior without any stabilizing center in which they could be rec
onciled. All these conditions made, and still make, motherhood
a difficult and a most exacting r6le.
In 1855 it must have seemed a simple matter to bring mothers
and teachers together to study what little was then known of child
psychology. As the century wore on and the complexities of life
and education became ever greater and women began to know
more about the social conditions of the time, this simple purpose
was lost sight of in the excitement of using the new influence women
found in their hands to reform the world. It was just before the
close of the century that the National Congress of Mothers was
formed and it did not escape the reformist spirit which was so
sharply exhibited all through our national life during the first dec
ade of the twentieth century. Indeed, child study itself was
converted into a crusade! In the March, 1898, issue of the
Mothers Magazine, Volume 1, we find a statement which admirably
illustrates the transformation which had taken place:
Every man and woman who begins to comprehend the sacred obligations
due to helpless little children and who longs for their harmonious develop
ment, possesses the attributes which will lead Mm or her to forward this
development. Cannot all of us at the close of this nineteenth century be
filled with the spirit of the crusaders, with that zeal and fire which made each
individual in those times a soldier in the cause of Christ? No man then
waited for orders from superior officers, no organization could meet his need,
12 The Parent-Teacher Association
no soldier could fill his place. In such a cause there could be no substitute
and thus it should be in this crusade against ignorance and indifference.
From that confusion of purpose the Congress has never freed
Itself. Although we find in the speeches and writings of the time
an assumption that it was the function of the Parent-Teacher
Association to educate the parent so that he might better be able
to cope with existing conditions and meet more intelligently the
problem of rearing a child in a changing civilization, nevertheless
the most extensive diffusion of interests was tolerated which had
nothing to do with this purpose and function. For example, the
Congress in 1926 continued to state its objects as:
1. To promote child welfare in home, school, church, and community; to
raise the standards of home life; to secure more adequate laws for the protec
tion of women and children.
2. To bring into closer relation the home and the school that parents and
teachers may cooperate in the training of the child; to develop between edu
cators and the public such united effort as will secure for every child the
highest advantages in physical, mental, moral, and spiritual education. 12
r '' X "
But when it came to action, it is too apparent that the Congress
was not carrying out these purposes as energetically as it might
have done. A concrete illustration is obtained by examining
impartially its plan of departmental organization. This shows a
great emphasis on expansion activities and a wide diversity of
interests not related to the stated purposes. The six departments 13
organized by the national federation were:
1. Organization: Child Welfare Day, Congress Publications, Membership.
2. Extension: Parent-Teacher Associations in Colleges, in High Schools,
in Grade Schools, in Churches, Study Circles, Pre-School Circles.
3. Public Welfare: Citizenship, Juvenile Protection, Legislation, Motion
Pictures, Recreation, Safety.
4. Education: Art, Humane Education, Illiteracy, Kindergarten, Exten
sion, Music, School Education, Student Loan Fund, Scholarships.
5. Home Service: Children's Reading, Home Economics, Home Education,
Spiritual Training, Standards in Literature, Social Standards, Thrift.
6. Health: Child Hygiene, Mental Hygiene, Physical Education, Social
"National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Handbook, 1926. Page 1.
* 8 The standing committees and their grouping in departments vary as need arises but this
list illustrates the way in which the Congress is seeking to meet the permanent requirements of
Growth, and Development 13
The diffusion of interests and attachment to aims not directly
related to its purpose is also illustrated by the set of resolutions
adopted by the National Congress in 1926:
1. Complete enforcement of prohibition.
2. A program of education to protect children by law and public opinion
3. A program for World Peace.
4. A Federal department of education with a secretary in the President's
5. Extension of the Shepherd-Towner Act beyond June, 1927.
6. Narcotic education as a means of combatting the menace of drug ad
7. A commission on illiteracy and strict endorsement of the compulsory
8. Reaffirming of position regarding salacious literature, continuing to
arouse public protest against the sale of objectionable magazines.
9. Favor establishment of National Teachers' Day for the recognition of
10. Program of safety and thrift education and a diversified recreational
program which shall contribute to the moral education of youth.
This diffusion of interest and relative neglect of child study was
not only tolerated by the leaders of the Congress and by leaders of
independent bodies as well, but by the educators themselves.
When the Congress moved in 1913 to bring educators to a realiza
tion that the Parent-Teacher Association could be an aid to the
school in the education of the child, it met with resistance. 14 Says
Mrs. B. F. Langworthy:
It was curious to see the reaction of the school people to this movement.
They were in many instances afraid of the onslaught of interested parents,
mostly mothers, and cast about to find activities that should keep them busy
and out of the mischief of trying to run the schools. It was a new interest
to parents and it went to the heads of many of them whose resentment against
new methods and new studies had been seething for a long time, no one having
taken the trouble to make them understand them. There were undoubtedly
many cases of interference and trouble-making, a difficulty that we have been
trying, by education, to live down. 15
"A conference was held in 1913 by the National Congress at the mid-winter meeting of the
Department of Superintendence of the National Education Association, marking an im
portant step toward a better understanding between the schools and the Congress. These
conferences, held almost every year since then, have done much good in making the Congress
known to educational leaders and securing the backing of the school system for Parent-
^Vice-President of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, 1932. (In a letter
directed to the writer).
14 The Parent-Teacher Association
As a result of this feeling on the part of the educators, the activi
ties of the local Associations were directed into new and in many
ways less important fields. They turned to a large extent to the
task of raising money for the purchase of school equipment, to the
arrangement of entertainments, and to other non-educational
activities. There was little room left in their schedule for the
study of parent and child problems. There were still some few
good Associations in the more progressive schools and communities,
but the original purpose of the movement which, however vaguely
stated, was the education of parents in order that they might build
up a better world for their children and consequently build better
children, was held in abeyance.
Meantime, however, the educational world has evolved a new
philosophy of education as a twenty-four hour a day process, and
while unwilling perhaps two decades ago to see in the Parent-
Teacher Association a medium for realizing this concept, now gen
erally accept it as such. Educators to-day are stating more clearly
and more imaginatively than leaders of the movement ever did the
potentialities the organization bears within it. Says Moehlmann:
Any organization with so large a membership is bound to make its influence
felt in both state and nation. An association with an emotional stimulus
such as the Parent-Teacher Association contains, represents a potency that
rises far beyond that of a group associated for business or ordinary purposes.
In a large sense the Parent-Teacher Association is distinctly a public relation
agency made necessary by the complications of our existing social organiza
Newlon has stated the case even more strongly:
The Parent-Teacher Association represents an effort on the part of the
home and the school to study together their joint educational responsibilities.
Child study associations, clinics of one kind or another, experiments with
parent education classes, have risen to cope with these problems. I shall
assert again the belief that I have expressed on former occasions that the
movement to bring school and home together in the study of their common
problems represents one of the three or four most important movements in
what is commonly regarded as one of the most creative periods in American
"Moehlmann, A. B. "Defining Rights and Duties of Parent-Teachers Associations,"
Nation's Schools, June, 1931. Page 55.
"Newlon, Jesse H. "The R61e of the Public School in Parent Education." An address
delivered at the Biennial Conference of the National Council on Parent Education, Wash
ington, D. C., 1930. Page 84.
Growth and Development 15
The growing appreciation of adult education has had its impact
on the attitude with which the efforts of the Parent-Teacher
Association are at present viewed. Hart expresses the new atti
tude when he says:
Any movement or institution that proposes to help men and women find
some new increment of knowledge or understanding or skill or ability through
their own hard efforts is socially valuable and should be supported whether it
comes within the scope of "standard" institutions or not. Wherever men
and women are struggling with the attempt to understand to-day whetjjerjn
studyjgoups, in librarj reading and research rooms, in general conversation,
or in" silence of i^vidu^mSitation, there a university is in operation anci
the future is in pr6cess. ls
While the Parent-Teacher Association movement was being
diverted from its early purpose of child study, that purpose was
adopted, developed and expanded in the study groups of the Child
Study Association of America and many other unrelated groups.
This also was a spontaneous organization, brought into being to
satisfy the needs of mothers with a desire to study their children.
The study groups developed outside the school, however, and
therefore did not suffer the cramping experience of the Parent-
Teacher Associations, and, since they were never tempted to ex
pand for numbers only, they did not suffer much from the reform
ist impulse. This movement for parent education grew steadily
until in 1925 a National Council on Parent Education was formed,
which drew all the hitherto independent groups together for coun
sel and discussion. This body has in turn influenced the program,
of the National Congress by emphasizing the great importance of
parent education in Parent-Teacher Associations. Other factors
may have been the work of independent organizations, such as the
United Parents Associations of New York City which in 1925
adopted a program which made child study the primary purpose
of the organization. There are a few other examples of the kind.
Whether because of these particular stimuli or others it is impossible
to say, but in 1929 the National Congress with the help of founda
tion funds established a department of parent education with a
secretary in charge for an experimental period of three years, to
encourage its groups to study child psychology and child needs
under competent leadership. The final stage of its work the one
"Hart, J. K. Adult Education. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1927. Page 297.
16 The Parent-Teacher Association
in which we now find ourselves therefore represents a distinct
step forward as well as a return to the earlier ideals of the Congress.
Dr. McAndrew in editorial comment quotes Mrs. Mason regard
ing the revised conception of the function of the Congress:
It jj pur, particular function not only to call attention to the value of all
organized efforts to protect and educate the child, but also to provide a channel
through which specialized information may reach fathers, mothers* and other
citizens who deal with children. 19
It is evident from this statement that the Congress has by no
means abandoned its earlier position as an organization for getting
things done even when it recognizes its responsibility as an agency
for parent education. Whether or not it would be desirable for
it to do so is not at all certain. The two purposes, with skillful
management, can be made to run together, and no one could deny
the value of the pressure which interested educated parents could
bring to bear upon the educational system. The new type of
educator does not dread this pressure as his predecessor did, as
instanced by McAndrew, who says:
Obtrusiveness is not as bad as indifference on the part of the community.
. . . The Parent-Teacher Association organizes and leads toward the support
of the schools those citizens who, however traditional their ideas of the pur
pose of the schools may be, have the strongest natural interest in them
that of parental devotion to children. 20
All these various points of view, even on slight examination,
show conflicting tendencies. The Parent-Teacher Association still
has a host of problems to work out. It must consider ways and
means of integrating its function as an agency for parent education
with that of acting in appropriate ways to support and further the
work of the schools. Perhaps this can never be done satisfactorily
to all concerned but there certainly exists a need for both functions.
The schools need the support of interested citizens in many crises;
they cannot do their work without money and the taxpayers must
vote the money. They cannot gain general acceptance for innova
tions and new methods without the support and understanding of
the parents and other citizens. Moreover, the child needs an
understanding, trained parent as never before in history, and the
19 McA,ndrew, William, Editorial Comment. School and Society, Vol. 29, June 1, 1929.
so/fciU Page 714.
Growth and Development 17
school cannot expect maximum results from its work unless it is
supported at home by intelligent parents. The school and the
home are irrevocably bound together in this civilization.
Realizing this, the school has before it the problem of working
out such a relationship to the Parent-Teacher Association that the
two institutions can function smoothly and without friction.
More specific reference is made in Chapter II regarding the possible
cooperation between the schools and the Parent-Teacher Associa
tion. The problem is complex and many experiments will have to
be made before any final satisfactory solution is found, if ever.
But every interested educator and every intelligent leader of the
Parent-Teacher Association can help toward this solution.
E. C. Lindeman 21 has given some thought to this problem and
feels that the manner in which the school should share in the
parent education process is one for considerable debate. He says:
In some sections of the country, the situation seems entirely ripe for the
incorporation of parent education within the established public education
system, in others it seems equally clear that the most effective form of or
ganization is one which preserves the voluntary elements in the movement,
in still others it seems possible and advisable to combine these two types
The possibility of setting up in an educational system a depart
ment of Parent Education to work jointly with all other phases of
Child Education should receive consideration from the various
communities in the country. It is not, however, without danger.
The determining factor in initiating such a scheme will of course be
financial support and this probably should be public and not pri
vate. The acceptance of such a plan should result only when the
following items have received careful consideration:
1. The danger of creating such a plan for a community not ready for it.
2. Adjustment to type of community.
3. Clarification and coordination of all functions concerned with Parent
4. Type of leadership available.
Another suggestion foreshadowing possible future developments
comes from Dr. Newlon:
"Undeman, E. C. "Sociological Aspects of Parent Education," Journal of Educational
Sociology. Vol. 5, April 1932. Pape 505.
18 The Parent-Teacher Association
I am firmly convinced that the time has come when a highly trained pro
fessional leadership must be made available in this field (i.e., in the field of
cooperation between the school and the Parent-Teacher Association). Every
school system of any size should have on its staff persons charged with the
responsibility of studying the family in its relation to the education of children,
specialists who can skillfully and informally foster the work of parent educa
tion and similar groups.
Such a department should be a service department and not an administra
tive or supervisory department. Skillful leadership will informally assist
parents and teachers in the study of their problems, rather than dictate or
administer. It is impossible to foresee with any clarity what forms of co
operation will be set up. There is already available a considerable body of
knowledge which should be placed at the disposal of parents and teachers,
and needs to be greatly extended by research. The school should draw from
the social sciences, from sociology, anthropology, economics as well as medicine
and psychology, much tested knowledge pertinent to the education of parents
and to the functioning of school and home. 22
With these suggestions, which mark the latest development of
educational thought concerning the Parent-Teacher Association,
we can conclude this brief history of an organization which has re
flected so many of the larger currents of American social life and
seems likely in the future to become an intimate part of our entire
In considering the history of the Parent-Teacher Association,
we find that it presents a number of features of great interest. In
the first place, it arose as a spontaneous answer to a genuine need
felt by parents and educators to obtain a better knowledge of the
child in relation to school and society. There has never at any
time been anything forced or artificial about its expansion, yet in
the course of seventy years it has had a steady, and of recent years a
phenomenal, growth in size.
Any organization with such a long history is bound to have
changed its conceptions and ideals. Yet on the whole the Parent-
Teacher Association has remained remarkably consistent. Al
though from the turn of the century the Associations began to lose
sight of their primary purpose, which to-day we call parent
education, because of the pressure of the social ideals of the time
which stimulated women to throw their strength against any and
M Newlon, Jesse IL Op. ciL
Growth and Development 19
all abuses of which they became aware, nevertheless, in spite of an
immense and regrettable diffusion of energies oyer the whole
social field, the primary purpose lay latent; it was not completely
The movement has been powerfully affected not only by the
social currents of the period, but by the attitudes of school ad
ministrators. For a long time the practical educators, who feared
a flood of ill-advised and useless criticism and who were jealous of
their prerogatives, made an attempt to keep the work of the As
sociations out of the schools. The efforts of the local units were
directed into money-raising activities and other fields which had
no connection with the original need which had brought the or
ganization into being. It is this situation which to-day keeps the
work of the Parent-Teacher Associations in foreign countries for
the most part valueless and which still weakens to a great extent
the effort being made in the United States.
In our day, however, because of the emergence of many new
factors, among them a changed concept of education, educators
and parents alike are looking upon this organization with fresh
vision. The leaders in modern education have many of them ac
cepted their responsibility for developing the potentialities of the
Parent-Teacher Association, and thus it appears that with their
assistance the Association can move forward to a higher level of
ORGANIZATION OF PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
AND ITS RELATION TO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
PLAN OF ORGANIZATION
IHE Parent-Teacher Association is always an autonomous, self-
governing, self-supporting organization made up of the parents of
the children attending a particular school, 1 except when the parents
of a group of schools band together for the same purpose. This
practically never happens in the Associations connected with
public schools. Examples are occasionally found of such a type of
organization for private schools. 2 The officers are usually a presi
dent, one or more vice-presidents, a secretary, and a treasurer.
Any parent of a child in the school is eligible for membership. In
some schools membership includes both parents. Some schools
accept parents only for full membership; in the majority of schools,
however, teachers and other faculty members are solicited to join.
In the latter case one or more teachers are usually given offices in
the organization, the remainder of the officers being drawn from
the parents. Officers are always elected by the membership and
the usual stipulation is that no person may serve for more than two
consecutive terms. Exception to this rule is sometimes made for
the treasurer and the treasurer is often a teacher.
Committees are usually appointed or elected for specific projects.
In Associations which do not admit teachers to full membership,
those whose advice is needed for such projects are usually made
ex-officio members of the committees. 3
Those local units which join a centralized body do so in one of
two ways either by affiliating as a unit with the central orgamza-
lExceptions are such groups organized in connection with churches, settlement houses and
other philanthropic enterprises, but as these have practically no bearing on the present study,
they are ignored in this chapter. They present no interesting modifications of the form of
*Cf. Chapter I.
aThe United Parents Associations of New York City recommends this plan to its members.
In such Associations, the principal sits as an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee,
which plans all the work,
tion, or by joining it as individuals in a group. This latter plan is
the one adopted for admission to the National Congress. Such
individual membership also makes the members of these units
automatically members of the state branches of the National Con
gress where these exist.
All state organizations of the National Congress are bound to
uniformity by its by-laws. There is, however, some variation in
the details in which the finer points of organization are carried out.
Article 12 of the By-Laws of the National Congress indicates to
some degree the extent to which the National Congress brings
about uniformity in its branches. Thus,
SECTION 3: Each state or branch shall elect a president, one or more vice
presidents, one or more secretaries, a treasurer, and such other officers as it
may find necessary. Each state branch shall be authorized to adopt rules
for the transaction of its business provided they do not conflict with the
by-laws of the National Congress. The state by-laws shall be approved by a
committee of the National Board of Managers.
The State Board of Managers shall consist of the officers of the state branch,
the district presidents (or, where there are no districts, county presidents),
the chairmen of standing committees, the chairmen of committees-at-large
and such others as may be approved by a committee of the National Board
appointed for that purpose. No person shall serve on the state board of
managers in more than one capacity; this shall not apply to district or county
presidents whose term will expire within six months after the state election.
SECTION 10: Each state branch shall, in so far as possible, provide for state
standing committees to correspond with the national standing committees.
It shall be the duty of the state committee to endeavor to carry out the plans
submitted by the like committee of the National Congress.
However, provision has been made in the Congress for elasticity
in the organization of districts within the state or councils within
the city or community. Eleven states have no district organiza
tion. Chart A 4 shows the state organization of New Jersey where
local association members through conventions are directly
responsible to the state. Chart B 5 shows the relation of national
committees to state, district, council, and local committees.
State branches may be organized with a membership aggregating
500 when the state has ten local units whose dues have been paid
to the National Congress.
The Convention, which is the governing body of the national
organization, formulating all its policies, is held annually at a
4 See Appendix, Chart A. 5 See Appendix, Chart B.
22 The Parent-Teacher Association
place fixed by the National Board of Managers. Delegates se
lected are: State President and three state officers, or the alternates,
and one additional delegate for every thousand members in good
standing. The State Board of Managers authorizes this selection.
Chart C 6 shows the unit of organization in the national body.
In the National Congress office there are forty workers, including
twenty-seven paid workers, of whom seven are division secre
taries, one a general secretary and the six others in charge of
Education, Research, Publicity, Summer Round-Up, Publications,
and Field Work, as outlined on Chart E. 7 In addition to these
divisions, the official publication of the National Congress of Parents
and Teachers, Child Welfare Magazine, has its office on the same
floor. Its staff includes thirteen persons, eleven staff workers
under the direction of a business and a circulation manager. The
Parent Education work of the National Congress of Parents and
Teachers is also conducted from this office. The staff is the chair
man of the Committee on Parent Education and a secretary.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers has adopted
specific recommendations 8 governing organization and program
by which local Associations may become "standard" or "superior"
Associations. These unfortunately encourage local units to pur
sue many different types of activity and promote a uniformity of
activity among the local units which does not permit an adequate
consideration of local problems. In Chapter V we shall discuss
the purposes and functions of the Parent-Teacher Association, and
in the light of these we can see the importance of encouraging a
flexibility which will enable each local unit to evolve a program of
work based on its own major problems.
Chart E indicates the great number of activities engaging the
interest of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. From
a consideration of this chart one is led to believe that if fewer
activities of major importance are considered desirable for local
units, then the national organization should consolidate its in
terests to include only activities which may be used by a local unit
in the study of problems peculiar to that community.
Chart D 9 indicates the general relationship of the Parent-Teacher
"See Appendix, Chart C.
7 See Appendix, Chart E.
^Report for Standard and Superior Associations, 1931-32, National Congress of Parents
9 See Appendix, Chart D.
Association to our educational system. The writer feels that
the position of the Parent-Teacher Association is too obscure.
For stability and prestige, its rights should be defined by the
boards of education. 10 Its relationship to the school should be
"extra-legal," but the Parent-Teacher Association must occupy a
place in our educational system which will encourage it to assist
in the effective solution of educational problems. The writer feels
that the Parent-Teacher Association, properly placed and en
couraged by the educational system, will not be likely to attempt
to dictate policies and interfere with the work of the school. The
instances of such interference can usually be traced to a confusion
on the part of the members of the Parent-Teacher Association in
regard to its function and often to ignorance of the purpose of the
educational policies they attempt to combat. Where the school
authorities have adopted a policy of keeping the parents informed
of the general purpose and philosophy behind educational methods,
this particular kind of friction has been practically eliminated.
There are always unreasonable parents, because unreasonableness
is common to human nature in general, but this trait causes
as much trouble in schools where no Parent-Teacher Association
exists as in schools where parents are organized. The writer, for
example, found in a study of 125 Associations little of what might
be called interference. Butterworth found in a study of the records
of 887 business sessions only three or four cases of what might be
counted as interference. 11
Any parent may become a member of the Parent-Teacher
Association in his child's school. He may continue to be a member
long after his child has left school. Some organizations even
extend membership to any interested citizen in the community
whether he has children in the school or not; but this plan has
dangers as it admits self-seeking politicians whose interests differ
from those of the parents. The size of the membership in any
Association seems to depend upon the vitality and energy put into
the program of work. Some organizations include one hundred
per cent of the parents in the organization, but this is rare, mem-
iThe United Parents Associations of New York City has made an attempt to accomplish
this. See "A Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Parents Associations," N. L. Rogers,
1931. Page 60.
"Butterworth, J. E. Op. cit.
24 The Parent-Teacher Association
bership sometimes falling as low as between three and ten per cent
of the parents of a school. In one hundred Parent-Teacher As
sociations selected at random the range of membership was 7 to
1,200. The National Congress reports that more than fifty per
cent of its local units have a membership ranging from 24 to 90
persons. It also reports an average membership of 45. 12 Butter-
worth 13 found that in cities with less than 2,500 population the
median for nine states was 47, and that the median size increased
proportionately with the size of the school. It is significant that
all studies of the organization that have been made so far show less
interest on the part of men than of women. Also school faculties
have been somewhat slow to increase their membership in the
Association. But at present more and more schools are showing
one hundred per cent membership. There is no limit to the size
of the membership, except the registration of any particular
school. Large Associations by the use of committees function as
effectively as smaller units.
The National Congress opens its membership to individuals not
members of local units and permits any person interested in the
aims and objects of the Congress to become an active or life
member upon payment of dues.
The state and national organizations usually influence the forma
tion of committees in the local units. Local units may appoint
any committees necessary to carry on their work but the sugges
tions of the state are usually so all-inclusive that they are adopted.
Chart F 14 represents graphically the duties of the members and
the committees on which they serve. Independent units which
have no connection with the National Congress are often charged
with duties and responsibilities similar to this set-up.
Turnover in membership is extremely high. The mortality
is partially offset by the addition of new members. In 1932,
according to the National Congress of Parents and Teachers,
there were 1,151,918 members in the grade school associations,
while in the junior and senior high school associations there were
134,769. As a result of this study, the writer concludes that much
of the turnover in membership may be charged to lack of interest,
^Special Report of National Congress of Parents and Teachers, 1931 (305-932-GS.)
"Butterworth, J. E. Op. cit.
"See Appendix, Chart F.
1. Inadequate program of activity.
2. Objectives of Parent-Teacher Association not understood;
parents are not sure of the efficacy of the work of the Association.
3. Pupil membership in school not constant.
4. No personal responsibility for membership.
5. No extensive study group plan to provide for individual needs
Minor reasons given by Association officers are:
1. Lack of time.
2. Political interference.
4. Change of residence.
5. Meetings held at inconvenient times.
6. Lack of social intercourse.
The number of meetings varies with the organization. Golden 15
found that the median in one hundred Associations was 8.61. In
the present study the median in one hundred Associations was
found to be 8.25. The range was four to twelve for regular meet
ings during the school year. In addition to regular meetings, how
ever, many special meetings are held to provide for study groups
and the solution of particular problems. The range of special
meetings is four to twenty-four yearly. Many of these are not
attended by the entire membership but are meetings of smaller
groups to discuss problems relative to their needs. From observa
tion and study the writer noted that the strongest Associations
have a systematic program carried out at all regular meetings,
supplemented by group meetings at regular intervals. Such
Associations usually plan activities which are cumulative, or
ganized under a large unit of work, and such a plan requires group
meetings in order to reach definite objectives that have been
adopted. Any organization which confines itself merely to large
regular meetings accomplishes little.
METHODS OF ORGANIZING LOCAL ASSOCIATIONS
Since the formation of the local Parent-Teacher Association is
usually due to spontaneous local initiative taken by relatively
isGolden, Emma. The Present Status of the Parent-Teachers Associations in North Dakota.
niversity of Minnesota, 1930. Page 57.
26 The Parent-Teacher Association
untrained persons, it is most unusual to find complete records deal
ing with the precise steps which have brought the present organiza
tions into existence. These first steps are, however, likely to be
all-important for the future of the organization. If petty political
forces seize the leadership at the start, the organization is thereafter
likely to be used as a tool to build up prestige by some aspirant
who wishes to rise from the political ranks. If unreasonable and
narrow-minded persons with zeal and aggressiveness (and the
combination is not unusual) become the first officers and committee
chairmen, the organization within a short time often finds itself
in trouble with the principal. In neither case is a constructive
policy and program of value to the majority of parents likely to
be undertaken, for this involves disciplined intellectual effort and
an imaginative approach at variance with the interests of this type
Since the National Congress is, in the minds of the general public,
the official source of authoritative information regarding all phases
of parent-teacher work, it would naturally be assumed that it
would be prepared to give detailed advice on the formation of
Associations, advice which would warn against the above pitfalls
and many other avoidable mistakes. Unfortunately, such is not
the case. It limits itself to the issuance of a small leaflet on or
ganization, which is of a highly general character, and a set of by
laws for new Associations. Since the future value and prestige of
the local Association depend upon the right kind of start, this lack *
of official information regarding methods of organizing is serious.
This question deserves more consideration from the Congress than
has been given to it in the past.
The United Parents Associations of New York City, recognizing
this need, has suggested methods to its local units which indicate
the kind of help the National Congress could give. Tins federation
suggests 16 that in organizing a local Association it has been found
highly advisable that a definite need of the organization be dis
covered in the community and that that need be discovered by the
parents, the prospective members. Probably the most successful
method of initiating the project has been to hold several meetings
of interested parents and, working through committees, to discuss
local problems and needs. Thus the aims and objectives of the
organization are clearly defined and understood in the beginning.
ow and Why of a Parents Association. United Parents Associations, 1930. Page 17.
When the group is brought to a realization that their problems can
best be solved by an Association under efficient, unselfish leader
ship, then it may safely bring about plans for definite organization.
The seriousness of the work and the type of activity that a Parent-
Teacher Association is expected to put into operation are more
clearly understood if the Association takes form under the in
fluence of capable and thoughtful leadership. Until such leader
ship can be found, it is best to delay organization. Here the
school principal can play an important part which calls for tact
and skill. He can always bring about the formation of an or
ganization but his efforts should be indirect, the result of influence
and suggestion which gradually build up in the parents a belief
that such an organization would help to solve the problems peculiar
to both school and home. The initial steps had best be taken
by the parents. Many school principals, actuated by the best
motives and eager to help the parents of the school, have found
that an organization too quickly developed and formalized soon
falls apart. A rather long period of incubation 17 and patient
education is required before sufficiently large numbers of parents
can be made to realize the potentialities of an Association of the
best type and before the proper unselfish leadership can be found.
In the one hundred Associations studied by the author it was
found that only forty per cent of them had been initiated by
parents. Also, instead of the careful procedure described above
it was found that Associations are often organized on the spur of
the moment to meet some special emergency which the Association
is suddenly conceived as all-powerful to cope with. Instead of
being the result of thoughtful, reasoned promotion, they spring
into being during the violence of protest against a real or fancied
grievance on the part of a small group of parents in a school. Nor
is such ill-considered action always due to the shortsightedness of
parents. Too many school principals are very likely to ignore
the possibilities of a Parent-Teacher Association until they find
their requests for a pet project meeting with resistance from the
educational authorities. Then they resort to forming an or
ganization of parents for the purpose of strengthening demands
for additions to school equipment or the like. Once thi* object is
achieved they lose interest in the Association until another op
portunity arises for utilizing its force in the same way. Or if the
ncf. Chapter V.
28 The Parent-Teacher Association
plea before the educational authorities is not successful, the prin
cipal may organize the Association for the purpose of raising the
funds necessary to carry out the project. It is not that any
aspect of this exploitation of the idea of an Association is necessarily
vicious in any one case, but such emergency organizations, thrown
together for quick action, inevitably raise up leaders and formulate
policies which will militate against a constructive, permanent en
terprise. It is a rare exception to find an organization which
has come into existence only after careful explorations to discover
the best type of leadership and considerable preliminary discussion
to ensure the establishment of policies upon which alone a firm
foundation for future achievement can be laid.
SCHOOL PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION RELATIONSHIPS
In the past the educational profession has generally assumed
that, because the citizen was taxed to support the public education
system, he exerted some kind of control over it. The assumption
was valid enough in the days of the *' lit tie red schoolhouse" which
was under the watchful surveillance of a small face-to-face com
munity which completely comprehended the educational theory
upon which the school operated. But to-day this assumption must
be scrapped in practically every section of the United States, for
the small community and the ready comprehension of educational
policy are both rare in our industrialized form of society. Some
provision must be made, however, for lay participation, if not con
trol, in educational policy-making and in the educational process.
One may remark, parenthetically, that it is an interesting fact that
the citizens of a country founded on the principle that taxation
without representation is tyranny have submitted for a long time
to a situation in which their representation in regard to school
matters has been entirely indirect. So far there has been no revolt
on the part of the rank and file of citizens against the fact that edu
cation has been bureaucratically administered. Such revolts as
have occurred have confined themselves to protests against modern
educational theories and ideas which have created a serious
situation, one which every conscientious modern educator who has
faith in the new theories must wish to remedy. It constitutes the
underlying reason why these educators are seeking to establish
workable home-school relationships. One need only examine the
many experimental methods evolved for substituting cooperation
for ignorance and antagonism between these two institutions to be
assured that a ferment is working to achieve a solution of the
It is the contention in this thesis that the Parent-Teacher As
sociation probably offers the most fruitful approach through
which this cooperation can be brought about. The arguments are
set forth in other parts of the study and need not be repeated here.
But the real question which confronts educators is: Precisely what
methods of administration can be adopted to deal with the Parent-
Teacher Association in such a way that on the one hand the parents
are admitted to legitimate participation in the educational process
and on the other hand the school authorities are enabled to pre
serve their professional function and expert status? It is a prob
lem not limited to the schools alone but broadly confronting our
whole social order. Since it is fundamental in our society and
since so little progress has been made with it (for appreciation
even that the problem exists is limited to perhaps the last twenty
years), it is possible in a study such as this only to make a few
tentative suggestions as to how the problem might be solved and
to hope that in the future an adequate solution will be made by
many educators working together and reporting results.
On the basis of the material collected for this study, the author
suggests the following to further the important work of the
1. There should be general admission that a problem really
exists. We who believe in modern educational theory should no
longer be content with statements that cooperation cannot be
achieved because neighborhood populations are shifting, because
parents show no real interest, because foreign-language difficulties
prevent exchange of views, because there are so many other
activities taking up the time of parents, etc. These are all condi
tions to be met, not reasons for doing nothing about a real problem,
and educators should stoutly maintain this point of view.
2. The conception that education is a social process must be
developed and its implications acknowledged. One of these is
that the schools must take the responsibility for training teachers
who will view the school as an integral part of the larger social
process which will result in a closer cooperation between the
school and such a social agency as the Parent-Teacher Association.
Such cooperation must be brought about if we would have the
30 The Parent-Teacher Association
home and the school accept their joint educational responsibilities.
This involves re-orientation of the curriculum of most training
schools in state colleges and universities. Community organiza
tion, sociology, social psychology, and anthropology must be
emphasized in the courses of study during the preparatory period.
(The pursuit of such studies, incidentally, would do much to infuse
new vitality into the profession of teaching, which has for too many
years recruited its ranks from persons who have had a narrow view
of the responsibilities and possibilities of teaching, which on the
whole most training institutions have done practically nothing to
3. Educators must accept responsibility for keeping parents
informed of what is going on in the school. This job cannot be
done in the perfunctory and superficial way in which it has been
carried on in the past if real cooperation is to be achieved between
home and school. The responsibility of giving parents an ac
curate knowledge of administration and procedure presents a
challenge to professional skill. The problem must be met in precisely
the same spirit as that in which we are now working on methods of
presenting subject matter in the school itself. In the end, it
might involve actually adding another item to the list of attain
ments which are loosely grouped under professional prestige or
proficiency. The ability to build up a sound understanding of the
principles and methods followed in a particular school might con
ceivably have something to do with whether a teacher or principal
was regarded as efficient by his colleagues and the profession at
large. On the other side of the picture we might even see parents
so informed regarding the wisdom of certain educational procedures
that they will act as a corrective agency against exploitation of the
schools by selfish interests. Since the educated person is the best
parent, the school stands to gam from a program which keeps
parents informed of school procedure.
4. In addition to taking responsibility for keeping parents in
formed as outlined above, the school must concern itself with
parent education as such and must release money and leadership for
that purpose. If the school does not take such responsibility this
important body of new knowledge will not be disseminated on a
scale vast enough to affect the behavior and attitudes of parents.
No other institution in American life is equipped to make such
'information available to the rank and file of citizen-parents.
That this knowledge cannot be disseminated by a decree and that
its inclusion in the responsibilities of the school involves the de
velopment of a new technique for adult education has been implied
at a number of points in this thesis. The best present method
seems to be the formation of small study groups under capable
lay leadership, assisted by a corps of professional workers equipped
with the requisite information. The interrelations between these
lay and professional leaders must be clearly defined and it would
seem from examining the experimental data available that the
lay leadership will have to be given a scope and freedom of action
which few adult organization leaders have thus far been accorded
in the schools in those community efforts with which the schools
have been associated such as community centers, recreation
centers, adult night schools, and the like.
In regard to this form of joint parent-and-sehool responsibility,
it would also seem valid to suggest that the enterprise be at least
partly, if not wholly, self-supporting, that is, that the parents
contribute the major part of the sums needed. This could be
arranged either by adoption of the "pay-as-you-go" policy so well
developed theoretically 18 a few years ago by the groups interested
in the wider use of the school; or by building on the practice
now common in the Parent-Teacher Association of subsidizing
certain school activities, for example, buying equipment, giving
charity, setting up scholarships, etc. The practice would be the
same, but the money would in this instance be utilized for the
education of parents instead of for the support of activities which
should properly be taken care of by the tax-budget if our theory
of free education for the child means anything. This is not the
place to argue the fine points of community organization theory,
but the wider implication of the financial problems involved is
stated here merely to indicate the really profound ramifications
involved in the apparently simple suggestion that the schools
should take the responsibility for parent education.
5. Still another step must be taken by the school. It must
evolve some administrative set-up for dealing with the Parent-
Teacher Association which will enable the latter to contribute to
ward the formation of sound educational policies and to cooperate
effectively and creatively on school projects and activities so that
18 See "Proceedings of the National Community Center Associations," in the Annual Reports
of the N.E.A. from 1918 to 1930.
32 The Parent-Teacher Association
both, the parents and the school will benefit. This involves, on
the part of the school, formal recognition of the Association, of its
function, and of its potentialities. What contribution it will make
and what forms its cooperation will take depend to a great extent
on the personalities of the members of the school faculty and of the
lay leaders of the Association and they will undoubtedly vary in
each school. But the suggestion here made is that a method be
worked out which will give formal recognition to the Association
in each school. Based on the experimental data available, the
author makes the suggestion that this formal relationship can best
be expressed by the formation of an executive committee within
the Association on which the principal or designated teachers may
sit as ex-officio members.
The status of ex-officio is suggested because it best indicates
that kind of advisory relation with the Association which is all
the principal and teachers should have. To assume any office
in the Association would naturally place the faculty in the
position of controlling Association policy, because of the power
which it can exert as the highest school authority and which,
being human, it could not fail to exert if given the opportun
ity. The practice prevalent in many Associations to-day of
giving the principal virtual veto power over the plans of the
organization is bad, for able parents will not be drawn into an
Association which functions as a spineless adjunct of the
To fill adequately the role of advisor and expert in the Associa
tion requires considerable skill and, fundamentally, belief on the
part of the principal in the efficacy of community organization.
He must be willing to have his policies questioned, his theories sub
jected to analysis, his school procedure open to suggestions for
improvements and changes. It involves him in the difficult situa
tion of pleasing two masters, his lay public and his professional
superiors. Nothing except a recognition that such is actually
his situation, whether he recognizes it or not, in the American
educational philosophy, will support him in the annoyances and
irritations and challenges to his professional pride which such a
procedure entails. But the results are well worth the effort. He
will be assisting in the development of community leaders; he will
be able to iron out the latent antagonisms which frustrate so much
of his best professional work; he will gain support for the develop-
ment and extension of his school plant; he will be able in the long
run to do a professional job which will be a source of legitimate
pride to himself and undoubtedly increase his prestige among his
colleagues. There are sound gains to be made both for the com
munity in which he works and for his own personal interests by
experimenting with this administrative relationship with the
It is interesting to note that many of the important suggestions
which have furthered educational progress in this country have
been made by the laity; and such a relationship as is here sug
gested seems to hold the promise of increasing and strengthening
the contribution of the laity to educational experiments and de
partures in which direction it already has an honorable record.
Much of our school work is so unsatisfactory that it seems short
sighted to overlook any source which might contribute toward its
improvement and toward the realization of more permanent
6. But this formal recognition which can be given voluntarily
by the principal and teachers is, in the opinion of the author, not
enough to insure the necessary prestige and standing of the As
sociations. Their powers and status should be recognized in the
by-laws of the boards of education in each city. This will enable ,
them to speak with authority on budget matters and the lay
administration of the schools. The present legal machinery for
administering the school system is lodged with a small number of
people elected at large or appointed by some municipal head,
known as the board of education. Without exception these are
lay persons and they are supposed to represent the citizen power
over education. But how many of them are trained to wield such
power in the best interests of the school? How often are they not
subservient to the political interests which appointed them? How
much of the red tape, confusion, and muddled policies of many
educational systems is due to this conflict of interests to which
the legal authority in the educational system is subjected? If
we are to eradicate this system, which seems grounded in
American institutions, we must find some way of building up a so-
called "pressure group" to use the language of the political
scientists; this will help to check the political exploitation of the
schools and will do so in no antagonistic, critical, negative spirit,
but by substituting a program of well-thought-out, sound educa-
34 The Parent-Teacher Association
tional ideas for which it is willing to fight. In the past, such
pressure groups as have been formed have represented only a
minute fraction of our population, mostly the well-to-do who had
only a theoretical interest in public education; and these groups
have not indeed been representative at all of the rank and file of
parents, who, in the last analysis, are those citizens with the most
profound stake in our public education system. That boards of
education will voluntarily offer the necessary recognition to
Parent-Teacher Associations is unlikely. The Associations will
have to insist on such recognition and it will be to the best interests
of the professional educator to support their efforts in this direc
tion. The patient educational work which the individual schools
would perform under the scheme here outlined would prepare
leaders among the parents to fill the r61e of city-wide leader
ship, equipped with sound knowledge of the schools and their
problems and with workable and creative suggestions for meeting
7. In conclusion, the author suggests that aside from these ad
ministrative and extra-legal devices, the most important con
sideration in the development of a sound working relationship
between the school and the home is the attitude of the principal
and his faculty. Any administrative procedure can be made to
function autocratically and arbitrarily, or the reverse. It all
depends on the individual in power since no safeguards ever
invented can prevent an individual in authority from using power
selfishly, or autocratically. This is especially true when the
individual in question is fortified by expert knowledge and is deal
ing with a loosely-formed organization made up of people rela
tively ignorant of his specialty and oppressed with personal
problems which they have never been equipped to deal with in ab
stract terms and in relation to a larger perspective. It is so easy,
with the multitudinous duties thrust upon the principal of a
modern school, to dismiss the queries of such groups, queries
usually couched in non-academic terms, ill-expressed, perhaps only
half-articulated. It is so easy to carry over the attitude with
which an elder person deals with children, to his dealings with
adults. To reverse this process, to be patient with stumbling and
meagre intellectual processes while at the same time treating the
person as an adult of equal standing, makes large demands upon
the administrator and the person clothed with authority. The
inspiring results which conceivably might flow from such effort,
both in personal development and in the rise of a new kind of in
tegrated community around the local schoolhouse, with the
fruitful influences it might have on education generally, seem to
be quite enough to justify accepting the challenge involved in
these new concepts. The strength to support such attitudes will
be found in the allegiance of the individual principal to the prin
ciples of democracy as conceived in the United States, as weU as
in his devotion to the right of individual self-development which
is theoretically guaranteed to every American citizen. Why
should our educational institutions shut off the opportunity for
such self-development to adults who are not enrolled as students
in the schools? Why not make these Parent-Teacher Associations
a field for the development of community leaders and a means of
widening the horizons of the rank and file? Once embarked on
the experiment of sincere adherence to the attitude suggested here,
it is the author's conclusion, from the observations made, that the
satisfaction of watching the development of individual parents
who respond to such an attitude will be quite enough to stimulate
further effort, to say nothing of the actual practical results in
smoother working of the school administration which inevitably
The following specific functions indicate the mutual inter
dependence of the school and the Parent-Teacher Association and
show definitely the work of the school and the Parent-Teacher
Association with reference to important functions which concern
both groups. These functions should be considered by no means
THE WORK OF THE SCHOOL AND THE PARENT-TEACHER
ASSOCIATION WITH REFERENCE TO IMPORTANT
FUNCTIONS CONCERNING BOTH GROUPS
PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
School Parent-Teacher Association
A philosophy of education should The schools need the parent's aid
be formulated by the school which and point of view to establish a stable
will provide an inclusive program philosophy. Therefore the Parent-
of education. Parents' aid should Teacher Association should assist in
be sought through discussions and formulating an educational phil-
36 The Parent-Teacher Association
CURRICULUM AND METHOD
School Parent-Teacher Association
The Parent-Teacher Association One of the objectives of the Parent-
should be consulted to bring to light Teacher Association should be to keep
the practical aspect of the work and informed regarding the content and
problems peculiar to the community, procedure of the school work.
No course should be set up without
considering the views and opinions
of a lay public.
The school, because it is qualified The reaction of the parent to the
by training to judge the work and work of the teacher is helpful to school
efficiency of the teacher, should have administration. An intelligent dis-
this responsibility. cussion of the teacher's work and
problems by parent and teacher is
Accepted standards should be re- Parent influence can demand that
quired by the school administration, salaries be sufficient to command
fit and adequate standards.
The school should assist in formu- Parents should be responsible for
lating a plan of Parent Education, organizing groups for instruction.
It should furnish leadership, propose They should select leaders and subject
methods, and assist in selection of matter; classify interests of parents;
subject matter. Such a plan should and support a plan to make the school
be financed partly by the Board of system responsible for releasing
Education. money for Parent Education. Par
ent Education should be the impor
tant part of a Parent Teacher Asso
SCHOOL . PROBLEMS
This is the responsibility of the The Parent-Teacher Association
school administration, but the co- should give the school information
operation of parents should be sought about the child such as pupil his-
to acquire needed data and inforrna- tory, background, special interests,
tion about the child. The views of the Parent-Teacher As
sociation regarding the success or
failure of the school are helpful.
The school needs to study com
munity problems and to keep the
community informed about its edu
cational program. The Parent-
Teacher Association and other parent
groups are a valuable medium. The
school cannot do its work without the
support of the tax-paying public.
The study of local conditions should
be the joint project of the school
and the Parent-Teacher Association.
Community groups should work with
and for the schools. An extensive
publicity program is imperative.
The school should be delegated to
acquire as much information about
the child as possible.
The Parent-Teacher Association
needs to keep informed regarding the
psychology of the child and of learn
ing. The program of the Associa
tion should include much on this
subject. Opportunities to study child
psychology should be sought by the
Parent-Teacher Association. Lead
ers should be secured in and out of
the school system to direct classes in
The board of education is respon
sible for the provision of suitable
The Parent-Teacher Association
should not assume responsibility of
the board with reference to the pur
chasing of school equipment. Where
the school suffers because of faulty
administration, the buying of equip
ment by the Parent-Teacher Asso
ciation is a proper activity provided
it does not interfere with the educa
This study of the form and technique of organization of the
Parent-Teacher Association and its relation to the school, based
on a consideration of its purpose and function and a survey of prac
tices in the National Congress and in one hundred local units,
seems to yield the following conclusions:
1. It is advisable in the organization of local units that the
original impetus proceed from the parents themselves, although the
38 The Parent-Teacher Association
school may indirectly suggest the need and influence the formation
of an organization.
2. National and state organizations of Parent-Teacher Associa
tions or, in the case of independent units, responsible centralized
authority, should provide more skillful leadership and assistance
to local Associations in matters of organization technique. This
assistance should include a recognition of the fact that each
community has specific local needs and should, in addition, embrace
helpful suggestions in regard to such matters as the type of leader
ship required for success, program, publicity, community or
ganization, conduct of meetings, school and home relationship,
community articulation, and so forth.
3. The number of activities suggested by the National Congress
should be reduced to allow each local unit to plan a program
based on specific needs.
4. Local Associations should be admitted to the State and
National Congresses only when their programs are based on ac
cepted standards and meet requirements approved by these two
5. These requirements should include a definite recognition
of the fact that the major function of the Parent-Teacher Associa
tion is parent education. The program, therefore, should include
a majority of activities which are educational and which provide
for local needs.
6. Emphasis should be placed on developing an interest on the
part of men, both parents and teachers, in the work of the Parent-
7. There is great variation in the number of meetings held by
the different Associations. Meetings should be held at least once a
month at convenient times and places. Since more frequent meet
ings are advisable to solve specific problems or further the con
tinuity of the program, provision should be made for them.
8. A concerted effort should be made to gain extra-legal recogni
tion of the Parent-Teacher Association from the boards of educa
tion. This effort could well be stimulated by the National Con
gress and would do much to increase the prestige and stability of
9. Factors most important in the development of a sound work
ing relationship between the school and Parent-Teacher Association
a) Admission of existing problem.
6) Conception of education as a social process.
c) Responsibility on the part of educators for keeping parents
informed of what is going on in school.
d) A parent education plan on the part of the school.
e) Recognition of the Parent-Teacher Association in the by-laws
of the board of education.
/) Attitude of principal and his staff toward the home.
g) Definition of specific functions.
PUBLICITY AND FINANCE IN PARENT-TEACHER
COMMERCIAL enterprises have long recognized the fact that
publicity is a necessity in order to secure acceptance of their ideas
on the part of the public. This is true not only of commercial
enterprises. It is equally true of any modern community or
ganization which wishes to acquire public prestige and confidence.
Increasingly this fact is being accepted by the leaders in Parent-
Teacher Association work. A great many competent judges now
believe that in order to forward a constructive educational pro
gram for parents it is necessary to include as a major activity in
association work an effective publicity set-up. 1 Table C 2 indicates
also the important position publicity now occupies in the esti
mation of State Presidents of the Parent-Teacher Association.
In general, however, the principles, aims, and methods of pub
licity have not been clearly understood and for this reason the
publicity activity of the Parent-Teacher Association has been less
than satisfactory. Indeed, it has been limited, uninteresting, and
Considering newspaper publicity alone, the writer found that
editors in fifteen cities ranked Parent-Teacher Association news
from fair to poor. Nearly all the editors claim that Parent-
Teacher Associations dp. not submit interesting reports of ^ their
activities. In addition, the presentation of the "news of their
acSvETes is often poor. All the editors felt that they would
publish more Parent-Teacher Association news if it were more
interesting in content and in preparation. Farley, 3 listing thirteen
school items used by the press, showed that Parent-Teacher As
sociation news ranked thirteenth in quantity used in school re-
iCf. Chapter IV, Table 2.
2 See Appendix, Table C.
aFarley, Belmont. What to Tell the People About ihe Public Schools. Bureau of Publica
tions, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, 1929, Page 37.
Publicity and Finance 41
ports. He also showed, in a study of 101 weeklies and 15 dailies,
that Athletics had a score of 88 as compared with a score of 45 for
Parent-Teacher Association news.
In ranking thirteen school topics in order of interest, 5,067
school patrons gave the news of Parent-Teacher Association activi
ties a mean rank of twelve. Only two cities of the thirteen con
sidered in the survey gave Parent-Teacher Association news a rank
as high as ten. The other eleven cities ranked it twelve or thirteen.
Thirty-nine boards of education scattered throughout the United
States also gave reports of Parent-Teacher Association activities the
lowest rank in interest out of a group of thirteen school activities.
Reynolds 4 found that in 98 cities a large majority of editors
rated the potential value of Parent-Teacher Association news as
very high. Only 24 per cent of the editors print Parent-Teacher
Association news daily. In the 98 cities included in Ms survey,
24% published Parent-Teacher Association news daily.
22% published Parent-Teacher Association news irregularly.
6% published Parent-Teacher Association news unspecified times.
3% published Parent-Teacher Association news weekly.
2% published Parent-Teacher Association news monthly.
2% published Parent-Teacher Association news not at all.
41% did not answer.
Most of the above material is, of course, concerned only with
the press publicity of the Parent-Teacher Association. It is in
dicative, however, of the general weakness of the Association's
present publicity activity.
There are many avenues of publicity open to the Parent-
Teacher Association. Among these we may list: word of mouth,
specialized publications, daily and weekly newspapers, handbills,
and posters. All these means may be utilized in acquainting
the public with the functions and purposes of the Association.
But in the use of any of these avenues, the indispensable element
is "news value." Something has to be about to happen, or must
have happened, in order to secure any kind of publicity. The
thing that has happened or is about to happen must be interesting
in itself and must be interestingly presented or any attempts at
arousing public interest through publicity will fail.
^Reynolds, Rollo G. Newspaper Publicity for the Public Schools, A. G. Seller, 1224 Amster
dam Ave., New York City, 1922. Page 39.
42 The Parent-Teacher Association
Among the activities engaging the attention of the Parent-
Teacher Associations which have a definite news value, we may
1. Programs including addresses by distinguished speakers.
2. Entertainments and special nights for parents and visitors.
3. Parties and receptions.
4. A membership campaign.
5. Lectures of Parent-Teacher Association officials before other civic groups.
6. Joint projects with other civic groups.
7. Projects undertaken by the Parent-Teacher Association.
8. Projects for community betterment.
These activities, though they may in some cases be in themselves
unimportant, would serve the purpose of bringing the attention of
the public to the work of the Parent-Teacher Association. After
this has been done a more specific expression of the duties and
functions of the Parent-Teacher Association would be possible.
The first step in a publicity program is the creation of items
of news value. The second step is the presentation of these items
to the public through the avenues of publicity listed above and by
means of the following devices:
1. Printed programs.
2. Exhibition of scrapbook showing activities.
6. Bulletin board.
7. Convention reports.
9. Superintendents Annual Report to the Board of Education.
10. School papers.
Although all these avenues, devices, and items of news interest
are at present used by the Parent-Teacher Association, they are un
fortunately not used to their best advantage, as is exemplified by
the study of newspaper publicity of the Parent-Teacher Association
at the beginning of the chapter. One reason for this failure, the
lack of knowledge of methods of publicity, has already been
listed^ A further reason for this failure is that in many cases the
people in charge of publicity are not always entirely clear about
the policies, functions, purposes, and plans of their Association
and are likely to fall into the error of looking upon publicity work
Publicity and Finance 43
as an end in itself, or as a means of increasing membership solely,
instead of considering it as a means of increasing the prestige of
the organization and bringing the public to an understanding of
its civic importance.
Turning now to a consideration of the finances of the Parent-
Teacher Association, we may note that local units have always
been self-supporting. Any study of this situation is valuable only
to the extent that it correlates an understanding of the character
and sources of income and expenditure with a realization of the
part that income and expenditure play in directing and influencing
the activity of the group.
The basis of income for most local community organizations is
the membershigjtee, although in some organizations membership
is free. The fees range from twenty-five cents a term to one
dollar per year. In many Associations one dollar is the charge for
family rather than for individual membership. Supplementing
this source of income in the local Association, money may be
raised through such means as entertainments, sales, advertising,
donations, card parties, and gifts. The majority of the Associa
tions feel that it is necessary to supplement the tax budget in order
to provide money for school equipment, charity and relief. 5 This
feeling was encouraged originally in order to direct the activity of
the Parent-Teacher Associations into channels that would interfere
little with the educational prerogatives and ideas of the school
system. It has grown to such an unfortunate extent, however,
that the budgets of most Associations do not include any item to
care for the important work of parent education. At present,
however, there is an improvement in attitude to be noted 6 and some
organizations are beginning to recognize their neglect of this
most important function. A few organizations have planned for
parent education as an item of cost in their budgets.
Where a program of parent education has been adopted, it is
usually financed with funds provided by members and by means of
volunteer or trained leadership not attached to the local school
faculties. A very few cities have taken over the responsibility of
s Associations of high rank raise funds in a dignified way, using one concerted effort to secure
^Particularly in New York, California and other states where Parent Education agencies have
carried on considerable propaganda.
44 The Parent-Teacher Association
parent education, assuming at the same time all financial obliga
tions. But such a scheme is necessarily a part of the school pro
gram and is controlled by the school.
In 1924 Butterworth 7 found that an undue emphasis was
placed on the money-raising activities of local Associations. In
nine states 50.3 per cent of the activities performed by 598 As
sociations in communities with a population of 2,500 or less were
activities to provide money for the school. For communities
above 2,500 population the average percentage of money raising
activities was 41.1 per cent.
Table D 8 shows the activities entered upon by one hundred As
sociations, selected at random throughout the United States, for
the purpose of raising money. The methods are arranged in order
Table F 9 shows how these one hundred Associations spent their
That the various Parent-Teacher Associations have had financial
struggles is unfortunate, but the policy of self-support has many
advantages. It may in some respects be difficult but it jji^^ctg
Ji^^jsociat^ns^from outside controJL It also affords them a
greater opportunity to influence policies, legislation, and educa
tional practice. Rogers 10 says, "If parents are not independent
of the school the civic potentialities of the movement must in a
large measure be abandoned at the beginning."
Assuming, therefore, that self-support is desirable, it would seem
that after a policy of self-support is undertaken it would then be
advisable for the educational authorities to place at the disposal
of the Association some financial resources and leadership in its
personnel. Writing on this point, Rogers 11 says:
If the plan of self-support is adopted immediate problems are presented.
The first is the kind of relationship which can be worked out between the
parent organization and the educational authorities. There is no doubt that
the educational system should assist the movement in some way because its
own efficiency stands to gain by the cooperation of educated parents. It
would seem that the most logical plan is for the educational authorities to
make available to the parent organization assistance on the technical aspects
'Butterworth, J. E. Op. eit.
See Appendix, Table D.
See Appendix, Table F.
"Rogers, M. L. A Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Parent-Teacher Associations in
the United Stales. United Parents Associations, New York City, 1931. Page 68.
"Rogers, M. L. Op. cit.
Publicity and Finance 45
of study group work, while leaving the parents free to initiate and pursue
the other activities here suggested as highly important. Such a plan is now
in operation in New York State and working admirably.
Let us now consider the income and expenditures of the National
Congress which is largely supported by the dues of the members of
the local Congress units. As a rule, fifteen cents of the member
ship fee of each individual member of each local Association is sent
to the State Congress, which retains ten cents for its own budget
and forwards five cents to the National Congress. The total
receipts of the National Congress from forty-eight Associations
for the year 1930-1931 were $93,581.19. 12 To this total must be
added further receipts of $23,773.40 collected by the Congress
office. TJiis includes the return from publications, emblems, con
ventions, interest, returns from the field, and other miscellaneous
Founders' Day, established to celebrate the birthday of the
Congress, provided considerable revenue in the form of gifts from
local units through state organizations. One-half of the sum
raised in a state on Founders' Day is kept in the state for ex
tension purposes. The other half is sent to the national treasurer
by the state treasurer. \
More specific information as to the proportional distribution
of income according to source is shown in Table E. 13 Similarly,
the distribution of the expenditure of the national organization is
shown in Table G. H We may note, generally, that the total
expenditure was $116,089.54, over 34 per cent of which or $40,000
was spent for salaries. JNfo^^^
However, the national office and directors of departments spent
$12,663.09. An item of $3,554.14 represents money expended
for conducting the campaign to correct the physical defects of
children entering school for the first time, tnown as the "Summer
Round-Up," 15 and an item of $7,902.47 provides for the expenses
incurred by secretaries for work done in the field.
The State Congress income, comprising a fee of ten cents per
member in most states, is usually expended for such general ex-
* 2 A statement of receipts of the National Congress for this year may be obtained from 1201
16th Street N. W., Washington, D. C.
"See Appendix, Table E.
"See Appendix, Table G.
"Reeve, M. W. and Lombard, E. C. The Parent-Teacher Association, 1924-4926, U. S.
Bulletin 1927, No. 11. Page 9.
46 The Parent-Teacher Association
penses as conventions, travel, office expenses, bulletins, and
The study of the publicity activities and the financial system
of the Parent-Teacher Association makes it possible to set up the
Since publicity is considered an item of major importance by
many judges of the Parent-Teacher Association activities, and
since the present publicity activity of the organization is demon-
strably insufficient, it should therefore be the subject of more careful
consideration than has been given to it in the past. In doing this,
however, care should be taken that the Associations do not fall
into the opposite error of placing too much emphasis upon pub
licity. It is valuable only as a means. With these things
in mind, therefore, the following recommendations are pre
1. Parent-Teacher Association officials must understand clearly
the purposes, plans, functions, and policies of their organization in
order to administer an effective publicity department.
2. Since publicity is classified under three headings, (a) the
creation of items of news value, (6) avenues and (c) devices to be
used, each one of these should be subjected to separate study in
order to see how their usefulness may be increased, and the three
studies should then be coordinated into a working publicity pro
gram which should comprise the following items:
a) The Parent-Teacher Association should be dynamic and
aggressive in making its activities interesting enough to
appeal to the press.
b) Methods employed by publicity experts should be studied
and applied to the needs of Parent-Teacher Association
c) Training for publicity work should be made available and
required of all state workers in charge of the publicity work
of the Parent-Teacher Association,
d) There should be an organized publicity set-up under the
direction of a competent chairman who should receive help
from a trained expert provided by the State and National
Publicity and Finance 47
Congress 16 or from some high centralized authority on asso
ciation work. This help should include a set of principles
governing the selection, organization, style, and compo
sition of materials as well as a system of submitting news
in a manner satisfactory to the local editor.
3. News should be collected and released systematically before
and after all meetings, including annual group meetings. This
should be supplemented with news and plans of the Association as
formulated by the president and the executive committee.
4. Cordial relations must be established between the Parent-
Teacher Association and the press.
5. The 49 Congress Units which considered publicity important
enough to give it third place in order of frequency in a list of 61
activities mentioned in their reports 17 to the National Congress,
should encourage the local units to make more use of a constructive
publicity program. (See Appendix, Table C).
6. The state publicity program should be placed on a business
basis with a definite budget administered under the direction of the
1. There should be definite dues for membership.
2. The Parent-Teacher Association should be financially inde
pendent if it is to have an effective influence in the community.
The local school system may then provide some aid since it must
recognize that the work of the Parent-Teacher Association will
result in an increase in the efficiency of its educational work. An
enlightened parent will be of inestimable value to child, school, and
3. Finally, in budgeting the expense of local units it must be
continually borne in mind that the Association's major work is to
be parent education, and money and interest should not be ex
pended beyond a point where such expenditure threatens to inter
fere with a well-rounded educational program.
win 1929, 149 students took correspondence courses offered by the National Congress of
Parents and Teachers. Proceedings of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, 1929.
Page 91. 17 I6iU Pages 30-31.
FUNCTIONS, PURPOSES, AND ACTIVITIES OF THE
JLHE purpose of this chapter is to compare the theoretical functions
and purposes of the Parent-Teacher Association with the activities
in which the separate Associations are engaged, and to attempt
to discover what relation exists between the two. In a perfectly
adjusted organization we would find that all the activities of the
group were directed toward a successful achievement of its theo
retical purposes. In the attempt to discover how nearly true this
is of the work of the Parent-Teacher Association, three distinct
studies were made.
The first is an evaluation by forty directing officers of the Parent-
Teacher Association and forty administrators in the field of
education, of sixteen primary purposes and functions of the Parent-
Teacher Association. The result of this study indicates what, in
the opinions of the leaders of the work, should be the objectives
toward which the Association should work. Their opinions repre
sent a theoretical approach to the subject.
The second study is an evaluation by one hundred presidents of
local Parent-Teacher Associations and one hundred school ad
ministrators, such as principals of schools and supervisors, of the
most important activities which in their opinion should occupy the
attention of local Parent-Teacher Associations. The jurors in this
study represent a group that is in more direct and intimate contact
with the practical work in the field. They have a realization and
an understanding of the theoretical approach exemplified in the
first study, but the limitations imposed by practical activity im
pinge upon them more immediately than upon the first group.
The third study is a compilation of the activities actually carried
on by one hundred Parent-Teacher Associations studied by the
The theoretical functions and purposes of the Parent-Teacher
Association were selected from a careful analysis of literature on the
Functions, Purposes, Activities 49
subject and from a study of books written in the field. This
analysis was supplemented by a study of state and national reports,
proceedings, programs, annual meetings, and constitutions. Com
bining the results from these two sources, sixteen objectives toward
which the work of the Parent-Teacher Association is supposedly
directed were selected and presented to forty Parent-Teacher
Association officials for purposes of ranking them in the order of
their importance. 1 These officials were selected from the roster
of administrative officers of national or state federations or paid
experts employed by the National Congress, and from officers and
experts of independent state and city federations as well. These
officers gave their judgments and the scale was then submitted to
forty administrators in the field of education. Many of these
were students of Administration and Elementary Education at
Teachers College, Columbia University, capable of giving an in
telligent and unbiased report,
In summarizing the opinions of these two groups, the following
technique was used: The rank given an objective by the individual
juror was considered the score for that objective. The total sum
of such scores for a single objective would be the final score of each
objective, as shown in Table 1. A low total score indicates a more
important objective, since a rating of 1 to 16 in order of importance
was given by each juror. The lowest possible score in point of
importance is, therefore, 640. The highest possible score is 40.
In summarizing the results of the above judgments we find that
there is some agreement about the comparative importance of the
functions and purposes as ranked by the two groups. Thus, al
though the Parent-Teacher Association officials would rank Child
development first and The parents' rok in modern education second,
and the educational administrators reverse this judgment, never
theless both groups assign to both activities places of the highest
importance. The greatest difference in opinion is found in regard
to Cooperation in solving school problems. The administrator would
evidently reserve this function for the schools.
On other matters, however, the correlation between the two
groups is significant. These judges show a strong tendency to pull
away from non-educational activities and to devote the attention
of the Associations to activities designed to educate the parent
1 See Appendix for scale of rating social values of theoretical objectires of Parents Associa
tions or Parent-Teacher Associations, pages 119-120.
The Parent-Teacher Association
IMPORTANT OBJECTIVES OF PABENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION AS RANKED BY
40 ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS AND 40 SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Providing information to bring about changes for
the better in regard to child development, habits
of learning, etc. .
Providing an understanding of the parents' rdle in
modern education, the value and opportunities of
the Parent-Teacher Association, etc
Cooperating with the educational staff to solve school
problems such as homework, reading habits, etc. .
Providing a means for social intercourse between
parents and teachers, etc
Organizing and assisting study groups in child de
velopment, the parent-child relationship generally
known as " parent education" ...
Helping toward a better understanding of commun
ity conditions, needs, etc
Working to correct physical defects of children
through such devices as the "Summer Round-
Providing general knowledge of the school philoso
phy, curriculum-making in relation to the chang
ing social situation, etc
Working on a legislative program for better school
Supporting state national organizations in their
efforts for equalization of educational opportuni
Providing charitable relief for families of poor in the
school district, etc
Educating the public as to the Association's pro
gram, publicity set-up, etc
Financing experimental work in the school curriculum
to be used as demonstrators, etc
Providing scholarships for gifted children
Making material gifts to the school sucb as pictures,
radios, various kinds of equipment, not provided
by the school board ,
Providing a cultural program with no necessary
emphasis on the needs of the child, etc
Note: A low rank or score indicates an objective of primary importaBce.
Functions, Purposes, Activities 51
and to help the child. Thus, cultural activities with no necessary
emphasis on the needs of the child and the making of material
gifts to the school are given the last two places by both groups while
more direct educational activities are rated higher.
The above, then, is the attitude of a number of leaders in Parent-
Teacher Association work and leaders in educational thought.
The judgments on the scale are admittedly incomplete but they do
provide us with an understanding of a point of view. We can see
from a study of their scales what, in the opinions of these judges,
are the significant functions and purposes of the Parent-Teacher
Let us turn now to a consideration of the activities which, in
the opinion of those Parent-Teacher Association officials and school
administrators in more direct contact with the work in the field,
are considered of primary importance.
After a careful study of the work and program of one hundred
Associations, supplemented by an analysis of national and state
proceedings and reports as well as an examination of programs,
meetings, resolutions, periodicals, and opinions of administrators,
eleven activities occurring most frequently as major activities in the
program of the Parent-Teacher Association were listed and in
cluded in a questionnaire. 2 This questionnaire was sent to one
hundred presidents of local Parent-Teacher Associations and to one
hundred school administrators (principals, and so forth) . 3 They were
asked to evaluate in terms of importance the eleven activities listed.
Table 2 is a summary of their judgments. A technique similar
to that used in scoring the judgments on Parent-Teacher Associ
ation proposed functions and purposes was used. The rank given
an activity by the juror was considered the score of that activity.
The total sum of such scores as given by the one hundred jurors
would be the final score of each activity as shown in Table 2.
Since each activity was numbered 1 to 11 in order of importance
by each juror, a low numerical score would indicate the more
important activity. The lowest possible score in point of im
portance is, therefore, 1,100. The highest possible score is 100.
A consideration of Table 2 reveals a perfect correlation in the
judgments of the two sets of jurors on Activities Nos. 1, 3, 4, and
2 See Appendix, page 125.
*See Appendix, page 125, for list of cooperating states.
The Parent-Teacher Association
10. Also both groups give Entertainments and Making of gifts to
the school a low rating, although the school administrators, again
apparently zealous to defend their administrative prerogatives,
place Solving of certain school problems in last place as con
trasted with the eighth place given this activity by the Parent-
Teacher Association presidents.
IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES AS RANKED BY 100 ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS AND
100 SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Program of Parent Education
Study of Child Psychology
Study of School Work and Methods
Demonstrations or Exhibits of School Problems . . .
Solving Certain School Problems
Making Gifts to School
Note: A low score or rank indicates an activity of primary importance.
*See Appendix for definition and detailed explanation of study groups. Pages 117-118.
In this set of judgments also we find a tendency to pull away from
non-educational activities and to direct the interests and energies
of the group toward a study of the child, of education, and of
parenthood. This tendency is not so marked as it was in the first
study, a fact which can be accounted for by the difference in points
of view of the judges. Therefore, we find that whereas in the
first study Parent education was given third place in order of
importance by the administrators, it is given only fifth place in the
second study by the administrators.
There is demonstrated, therefore, a slight lag in the attitude
of the administrators in the field behind that of the judges with a
more purely theoretical approach, further removed from the field
Let us turn finally to a consideration of the activities which are
actually being carried on by the Parent-Teacher Association. One
Functions, Piirposes, Activities 53
hundred Parent-Teacher Associations were studied and a table
compiled indicating the activities in which these one hundred
Associations engaged. The meetings of the Associations at
which these activities originate or take place, occur on the aver
age of nine times a year. 4 The meetings usually begin at 8:15
ACTIVITIES CARRIED ON BY 100 PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS IN ORDER
Study Groups* 50
Relief for Children 40
Parent Education 35
Child Welfare 28
Purchase Squipment-Cifts 27
Know Your School
Student Aid or Loan Fund
Hecreation . 2 g
Lecture Course* 2 H
Playground 2 m
*Includes variety of subjects such as: Education of the Child, Parent and Child, Child
Relationships, School Work and Methods, etc.
and last from one hour and a half to two hours, not including the
time spent in social intercourse. These regular association meet
ings are not to be confused with the meetings of committees, study
groups, council or state meetings.
^Compare Chapter II, page 25.
The Parent-Teacher Association
A typical agenda 5 follows:
1. Opening, singing, minutes, etc.
2. Business session, reports, committees, announcements by the President,
4. Topic for the evening, lectures, discussion, demonstration.
5. Plans for the next meeting.
6. Social hour.
Considering this agenda, it would seem possible under Items
2, 4 and 5 to achieve a great deal of activity which would be in line
with the theoretical purposes and functions of the group. How
ever, a consideration of Tables 3-A and 3-B will indicate to what
ACTIVITIES MENTIONED ONCE ONLY
Correlation of IJome and School
Use of Leisure Time
Theatricals and Dramatics
Adult Reading Program
Distribution of Clothing
Social Times for Parents and Teachers
Promoting Friendliness and Good Will
extent the activities of the group are dispersed and the general
diffusion of interest found in the field. While all the important
activities are represented in the listing, there is an almost over
whelming inclusion of activities which are neither valuable nor
5 One hundred programs representing Associations throughout the United States.
Functions, Purposes, Activities 55
When we examine these activities in the light of the proposed
functions and purposes considered as important in the light
even of the activities considered as important by the two sets of
judges in Studies One and Two there is seen to be a great dis
crepancy between function and activity. It is significant that,
although the judges in both studies relegated the Making of gifts
to the school to a very low place, it nevertheless, in the activities
actually engaging the attention of the group, occupies one of the
highest places. In addition we find listed such extraneous mat
ters as Beautify school, Relief for children, Community projects, Card
parties, and the other activities on Table 3-B listed as mentioned
only once. These are all activities which, though in themselves
they may be a very essential part of the people's lives, nevertheless
bear little or no relation to the functions and purposes of the
Parent-Teacher Association. While it may be argued that in
themselves they do little harm, it is important to consider that
they take time away from the more important activities which
should be engrossing the attention of the group, and in this way
they weaken the efficiency and civic significance of the Association.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Comparing the results of the three studies made in this chapter,
there is seen to be a clear understanding and agreement on the part
of Parent-Teacher Association officials and educational authorities
in regard to the functions of the Parent-Teacher Association.
There is, however, a slight discrepancy between the functions
considered important by this group and the activities considered
important by the group of judges in closer contact with the work in
the field. And there is a much greater discrepancy between the
ideas of either of these two groups and the actual work being
carried on by the local Parent-Teacher Associations.
If the Association is to continue its work and become an asspci-
"ggj.^^ and child '
weHar^' ]$&:&. musjrbe "sr eft^nopt^ theoretical
statement of functions anil purposes ^mdTffie**ffclivity of the .Associ-
^tiQjl^^ie purposes and functions of the Association, as under
stood by the people who are at the head of the work, must also be
clearly understood by the local Associations and all their activities
must be directed toward the furtherance of their defined purposes.
56 The Parent-Teacher Association
With this in mind, therefore, Chapter VII is offered as a specific
recommendation of one method by which the activity and work
of the Parent-Teacher Association may be coordinated and related
to its conceived functions. Before we consider these, however, let
us examine in Chapter VI the work of ten Parent-Teacher Associ
ations in the light of the three studies referred to in this chapter.
. COMPREHENSIVE view of the Parent-Teacher Association would
not be complete without a fairly intensive study of the Association
at work. The author, realizing the difficulty of evaluating the
Parent-Teacher Association through generalized observation and
questionnaire treatment, decided to subject fifteen selected Parent-
Teacher Associations in fifteen cities and three states to a more
direct analysis. Of this number it was necessary to eliminate five
for various reasons such as lack of complete records, lack of interest,
and lack of cooperation. The population of the cities in which the
ten case studies were made ranged from 10,000 to that of the largest
city in the United States. The range of membership in the Associ
ations studied was 70 to 600. Since the writer wished to determine
to what extent the Association was functioning in the light of the
purposes determined in Chapter V, the Associations finally se
lected were characterized as "typical" 1 in relation to present-day
standards of work.
Most of the Associations were visited twice by the writer, during
which time personal interviews were obtained with the presidents
of the Associations and the principals of the schools. A check list 2
was used to record the practices of the organizations. An ex
haustive study of purposes, programs and activities, meetings,
minutes, and the reaction of the community was included in the
study. Opinions of lay persons, teachers, editors of the local press,
and the school superintendents were obtained. The writer believes
that in every case correct interpretations of the data were made.
Table 4 summarizes the important factors of the ten case studies
included by the writer in his study. Each case was measured in
terms of a scale adapted from Butterworth's 3 self-administering
scale. The weight of each item represents the average opinion of
l The ten Associations were all rated, however, as above the average by the National Congress
or United Parents Associations centralized group.
2 See Appendix, pages 123-124.
sButterworth, J. E. The Parent-Teacher Association and Its Work. Macmillan Company, 1929.
The Parent-Teacher Association
O a a
cent of t*
cent of n
cent of a
cent of h
The Parent-Teacher Association
d fl u S
Case Studies 61
75 administrators students at Teachers College. It does not
represent the writer's personal opinion. The rank or score in Table
4 indicates the score of the ten Parent-Teacher Associations in
cluded in this study. The scores range from. 60 to 76. The com
posite weighted judgments of 75 jurors are given on page 110.
The ten Associations show definite weaknesses in these items:
"The Year's Objectives and Their Attainment/' " Definite Study
of Educational Needs," "Budget and the Educational Program, 5 *
"Publicity," "Parent Education," "Percentage of Men Mem
bers," "Utilization of Membership," "Leadership," "Unified Pro
gram," and "Acquiring Social Power Through Participation in
Public Affairs." On the other hand, there is a universal element
of strength in such items as "Committee Organization," "Teacher
Membership," "Meetings," "Absence of Friction," "Social Inter
course," and "Types of Activities," "Attitude of School toward
the Home." All the cases show a fair organization of their Study
SUMMARY OF THE TEN CASE STUDIES
(Names of the Associations are represented by letters A to J.)
This Association in a small rural community faces problems that
differ from those in a large industrial city. It is without many of
the advantages found in large municipalities, such as art, science,
health clinics, libraries, and the like. It, therefore, has had to put
a great deal of emphasis on civic betterment projects in its program
and has organized such activities as baby clinics, correction of
physical defects, and research information with reference to
agricultural and community work.
There are 150 members, 20 per cent of whom are men. Teacher
membership is 100 per cent. Attendance is approximately 65 per
cent. About one-third of the homes of the district are represented.
Committee organization is well provided for. The executive com
mittee facilitates the business of the organization. As stated
above, many of the activities engaging the interest of the group are
non-educational, but a good deal of energy is directed toward the
consideration of major problems. There has been a definite at
tempt to study needs and understand what responsibilities and
opportunities are those of the Parent-Teacher Association in the
education of the child.
62 The Parent-Teacher Association
It is recommended that the Association give careful consideration
to Objectives Nos. 3, 4, and 10 as set up in Chapter V in order
that it may carry forward the fine work begun. It is important
that this Association increase its effort to provide a general knowl
edge of the school philosophy, curriculum making in relation to a
changing social situation, school procedures, and so forth.
Administration of relief, because of the economic stress of
present conditions, has further served to diversify the activities
of the group. The purchasing of equipment for the school is con
sidered an important activity. There is independence in thought
and action, and an aggressive attempt to safeguard the welfare
of the child; good leadership, hard work, and cooperation have
given the Association an excellent rating by the State Congress.
The Association has brought about the following desirable changes:
1. Reduction of turnover.
2. Helpful educational activity; discussions of school problems such as
health, curricula, recreation, etc.
3. Higher salaries for teachers.
4. Correction of health defects in pre-school children.
5. Better curriculum.
6. Better community support of schools.
7. Better housing conditions.
Some of the problems still facing the group are:
1. A need of delimiting its problems.
2. A need of a clear statement of its functions and an understanding of
the community problems which He within its province.
3. A need of integrating its activities in relation to its problems.
4. Extension of study groups to include more parents, especially men (see
Appendix, page 117).
This Association, located in a large industrial city, has a cos
mopolitan group of 300 members. All the teachers belong, but
only 15 per cent of the members are men. The average attendance
is 60 per cent. There are ten regular meetings. The only supple
mentary meetings are study groups of younger mothers, usually
held in the homes. Leadership is above the average, many of the
leaders having been specially trained.
The Association was formed to protest an undesirable use of the
school building by the Board of Education. Despite such an un
fortunate way of organizing, the success of the Association has
Case Studies 63
been marked. Some of the activities are of the higher educational
type, but they do not all achieve their purpose or function in an
effective educational plan. There is a necessity, recognized by the
leaders, to study the problems and needs of the community. The
activities then selected, instead of being scattered as they now are,
should be directed toward a solution of the immediate problems.
The economic disorder of the city has also occasioned a diversifi
cation of interest, since the Association has of necessity had to
aid the community in providing relief to the needy.
The local press is optimistic about the Parent-Teacher Associ
ation and the value of its news. It therefore remains the duty of
the Association to embark upon a directed publicity program and to
increase its prestige through the use of the press, bulletins, school
paper, and other media.
There should be a greater realization of the true purposes and
functions of the Parent-Teacher Association. This Association
should study Objectives Nos. 3, 9, 10, and 16 listed in Chapter V*
More emphasis should be placed on the objectives which give the
parents a true conception of their responsibilities and opportunities
in the education of the child. An extension of the Study Group
plan is suggested to help achieve this end.
Friction is not a problem, and there is evidence of fine co
operation. The community has faith in the Parent-Teacher
Association as evidenced by support and interest. Turnover in
membership is large. There is need of greater independence in
action. A unified program should be considered at once by this
Association. It has the leadership, interest, and support necessary
to present a splendid educational program. All that is necessary
now is a formulation of problems and a relating of activity to func
There is no evidence that the Association goes beyond its lay
function. It is progressive and aggressive to support modern
education and child welfare, and has supported better salaries for
teachers. It has also a fine rating in the State Congress. It has
brought about many desirable changes, among which we may list:
1. Greater friendliness on the part of teachers.
2. Closer cooperation on the part of the membership.
3. Good community response.
4. Training of leaders.
5. More parents interested in visiting school.
64 The Parent-Teacher Association
6. Special study group meetings based on the interests of certain groups.
7. Welfare work.
8. Better physical conditions for children.
9. "Room Mothers Plan" to contact school work.
10. Community program.
Special problems still facing the Association are:
1. Men membership.
2. Extension of educational activities reduction or range of activities.
3. Unified program.
4. Publicity program.
5. Development of leaders.
6. Effective Study Group plan.
If we examine Table 4 (page 58) for the summary of Association
C, we note that the 100 per cent teacher membership is offset by
the fact that no men are included in the membership. The number
of homes represented is high but is weakened again by the fact
that men participate but little. However, men do attend meet
ings. The Association, working without any perceptible friction?
keeps well within its province although the wide range of activities
needs coordination. The many activities which the group ag
gressively promotes for child welfare need direction and consoli
dation in a program under the Unit-of-Work system. The activities
are not carried to a point where they represent a concentration of
interests and energies toward the solution of major problems.
The Association should study its needs, recognize its problems, and
organize its program.
The purchasing of equipment has not interfered with the more
important major problems of the Association. The type of activi
ties carried on by the Association has done much toward the
creation of items of news value. It now remains for the Associ
ation to study avenues and devices in order to see how their
usefulness may be increased. Avenues of publicity outside of the
local press should be used by this Association. The legislative
program is above the average. Though the Association is not
political, it has been able to support favorable school legislation.
There is potential leadership in this group. They have done well
under the plan of self-training, but assistance from training agencies
outside of their Association should be made available. There is
Case Studies 65
evidence of sound business procedure. The budget of the Associ
ation is planned in the light of educational activities. There
is little emphasis on money-raising activities. The study groups
need extension to include more of the membership. It is suggested
that one or two special groups be organized for the men of the
Strong Factors in the Association
1. Teacher membership.
2. Aggressiveness in work.
3. Health program.
4. Desirable changes brought about, such as:
a) Increased teachers' salaries.
6) Better school housing.
c) Better police protection.
d) Recreation periods for children.
e) Favorable school legislation.
/) Visiting teacher.
5. Committee work.
6. Educational activities.
Factors Still To Be Considered
1. Purposes and functions of Parent-Teacher Association.
2. Integration of activities.
3. Extension and relation of study group activities.
4. Development of a publicity program.
5. Securing of men members.
6. Means of reaching more parents.
This typical Association in a town of approximately 10,000
population has a membership of 60 or 70 members. They are of
average intelligence and the morale of the group is splendid. Most
of the members are women. A high percentage of attendance is
evidenced, although only one-third of the homes in the school dis
trict are represented. Unfortunately, few of those attending par
ticipate in the educational program.
There would seem to be a need of more independent leadership.
The school is at present too dominant a force. It has worked
arduously, however, to promote the work of the Parent-Teacher
There has been little attention to study groups or separate meet
ings organized to discuss special problems of education. What
the Association needs is help from the State Congress in order to
66 The Parent-Teacher Association
better its organization and to select its activities. It must recog
nize the necessity for planning its program, must then select its
problem, and must finally arrange its activities in a unified program
of work as suggested in Chapter VII.
The interest of the Association is good and continuous. Friction
is not a problem. There has been a definite attempt to publicize
its program, but there is so little understanding of that program,
of proposed aims and functions, and of related activities, that the
publicity work although initially good cannot follow up with con
structive material. The Association is hampered by lack of train
ing facilities for leadership. An extensive Parent Study Group
plan, assisted by the State Congress, is recommended to this group
to increase its number Of leaders. The members usually remain
in the Association as long as their children are in school. The
Association is aggressive in the support of school policies and the
promotion of activities which benefit the school. It keeps well
within its province. It has brought about these desirable changes:
1. More friendly teachers.
2. Fewer complaints.
3. Good publicity for the school.
4. More educational equipment.
5. Relief and safety education programs.
6. Better social intercourse.
It still faces the following problems:
1. Need of understanding its own status.
2. Recognizing that Parent Education should be the first concern of the
3. Selecting activities which fit the need of the community, such as Progres
sive Education policies, Reading Habits of Children, Interpretation of School
4. Need of exercising leadership independent of the school.
5. Lack of unit program and the consolidation of activities under major
6. Training leadership.
The problems of this Association are sharply contrasted to those
in the average public school. It is part of a progressive experi
mental school and located in a very large city. Its membership
is 700. The personnel is above the average in intelligence, interest,
and leadership. Children are drawn mainly from professional
Case Studies 67
classes which include a preponderant number of educators and
teachers. The percentage of attendance is 50 per cent. The
percentage of homes represented is 50 per cent. Teachers are
represented 100 per cent. This Association has the family
membership plan, meaning that both parents are included in the
membership upon payment of stipulated dues. Thus, the father's
representation equals that of the mother. Six regular meetings are
held each year, attended by a large proportion of the membership.
Many special meetings are held to provide for the interests and
needs of those concerned. The leadership of the school is excellent
and well informed on modern educational theory and practice.
Many leaders in this Association have been trained professionally.
There is less than the usual friction between school and home. The
action of the Association is characterized by independence of
thought and no attempt is made to dictate the policies of the
school. The Association is progressive and aggressive in support
of child welfare.
In order to make sure the Association would have clearly in mind
the objectives of the Parent-Teacher Association and understand
its true functions, the leadership initiated the Association after
many discussions and meetings. Organization was not perfected
until five years after the first proposal that a Parent-Teacher
Association be organized in this school. An early view of its
philosophy and policy may be seen in the following statement:
If we organize a Parent-Teacher Association it could function as an edu
cational medium for teachers and parents through an exchange of views both
as to modern problems as they bear upon education, and specifically as to
matters relating to the school itself.
All this was done to educate the membership in regard to the
potential power of the Association. These meetings were char
acterized as ones calling for less immediate action but more careful
study, leading to an understanding of the aims of the Association.
Needs were studied, interests and activities classified. Eventually
the Association was organized.
Since many of its pupils come from various sections of a large
city and some from other cities, it is not called upon to serve a
particular community in the sense in which the average Parent-
Teacher Association is forced to serve. It is, however, exerting an
influence on the several communities by its program of parent
68 The Parent-Teacher Association
education and by its emphasis on units of study which have broad
The Association tries to carry out its purposes by the use of a
very complete plan of parent-study groups. Here the parents are
homogeneously grouped according to interest and understanding.
Such groups aim for close cooperation and understanding in every
grade. "Grade Representatives" relieve teachers of the mechan
ics of setting up these meetings but teachers are a part of the plan
and program. Such groups are directed by a competent person
who endeavors to " tie up " the subject matter of the various groups
with the larger meetings. The excellent results of such studies
should be made available to other groups outside of this organ
While the activities are mainly educational and groups are
divided according to interests, there is much that can be done to
unify and coordinate the program. Many of the activities, accumu
lative in character, can be developed into larger and more helpful
units. Discussion of fundamentals in education is attempted with
good success. Much more could be done with the local press and
by the use of bulletins, school news, and papers to build up a con
structive publicity program along the lines suggested in Chapter
The Association is securing excellent returns for the investment
it has made, because of a careful study of problems together with
a persistent effort to plan a program to solve these problems.
Outstanding Features of "E" Association
1. Cumulative discussions of problems.
2. Broad social aspect of work.
3. Consideration of fundamental problems in education.
4. Parent Education program by use of extensive study groups plan.
5. Active interest of fathers (the large study group composed of fathers
6. Parents grouped according to interests and needs to consider delimited
7. Financial support on the part of school and membership.
8. Leadership personnel.
9. Continued interest and cooperation,
I. Extension of study group plan and cumulative discussion of various
topics to take the form of larger units of study. There should be a definite
controlling theme set up as an objective toward which such groups with the
proper direction can well make a contribution.
Case Studies 69
2. More parents should receive the benefit of the Association work. At
tendance in study groups should be increased.
3. Study plans of the Association should continue to interest the fathers.
The experiment with this group should he made available to other Parent-
4. There is need for a more definite "tie-up" between the component parts
of the Association, such as committee work, study groups, and general meet-
bags of the entire membership.
5. Meetings of the entire group should be increased in number.
The Association in this residential town of about 25,000 popu
lation is unique in the extent and the diversification of its activities.
The personnel consists of a mixed group such as is usually found in
a small city or a community, the population of which is for the
most part American. Of the membership, which is about 100,
only two per cent are men. Only one-third of the homes of the
district are represented.
Ten regular meetings are held each year. One child-study group
meets several times a year. The number of activities carried on
by the Association is too great to list. Many of these activities
should be abandoned or consolidated and organized under the
Unit-of-Work plan suggested in Chapter VII. The child-study
group should be greatly extended to include a careful study of
subjects and activities interesting to and within the comprehen
sion of the group.
Real parent education and an interpretation regarding the possi
bilities of modern education are extremely necessary to this group
and will be achieved easily through a planning of the work under
the unit idea. It must be worked out cooperatively and the
activities selected must conform to the interests, understanding,
and satisfaction of the group. Such a plan, would also serve the
purpose of discouraging the attendance of children at the regular
The Association should devote some time to a consideration of
the functions and purposes of the Parent-Teacher Association as
listed in Chapter V. In the opinion of the writer, special emphasis
should be placed on Objectives Nos. 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10.
In the working of the organization some friction has been evi
denced, but this is not now apparent. Instead we find good
cooperative effort. The reaction of the community to the Associ-
70 The Parent-Teacher Association
ation is good. The 100 per cent teacher membership also indicates
interest and cooperation on the part of the school. Although the
committee organization is very complete, the large number of
standing committees does not result in a high utilization of mem
bership. The recommendations above with regard to study
groups and unit programs will undoubtedly solve this difficulty-
Further difficulties may be listed as follows:
1. Lack of independence in thought and action. The Parent-Teacher As
sociation officers lean on the leadership and policies of the school.
2. Need of leaders trained in professional training courses.
Desirable changes that have been brought about are:
1. Better school equipment.
2. Safety education.
3. Health program and playground.
4. More friendly teachers.
5. Parents better informed regarding school procedure.
There is still much to be done, however. Undoubtedly the
efficiency and value of the group will be increased by an adoption
of the Unit-of-Work program as suggested above. In addition, the
following are also recommended for the Association:
1. Extension of publicity program.
2. Increased attendance.
3. Reduction of turnover in membership.
4. More initiative in effecting needed reforms, e.g. good school legislation,
new education, teachers' salaries, etc.
Association G is located in a large city in which the Parent-
Teacher Association is not popular and where, because the move
ment is viewed with suspicion, few of the city's 75 schools have
such organizations. The problems of this group are those of a large
cosmopolitan group in a large city. The membership of 380 is
according to family and thus about 50 per cent of the members are
men. Teachers are 100 per cent in membership, and about one-
third of the homes in the district are represented. Attendance is
about 50 per cent. The personnel is above the average. Many Jew
ish families are represented. Meetings occur regularly eight times
a year and are supplemented by a number of child-study groups.
In spite of the poor support given to the Parent-Teacher Associ
ation in this city, this Association has an adequate knowledge of its
Case Studies 71
purposes and functions and is performing excellent if undirected
work in Parent Education. The officers should, however, discuss
with the members Objectives Nos. 3, 4, 9, 10, and 16 listed in Chapter
V in order to improve and integrate the yearly program. Much
more could be done to reduce the number of activities or to consoli
date them under one major idea or unit. Directing the enthusiasm
and energy of every member would result in a definition of the
major problems of the group and a concerted drive toward the
solution of that problem.
Committee work is planned according to state suggestions. A
unification of this work under the Unit-of-Work system would
result in a greater understanding of desired ends, and would in
crease the possibility of achieving those ends. The budget com
mittee's plans need reorganization; for example, in order to make
adequate provision for the educational activities which the group
desires to pursue. The publicity set-up could be improved and
extended along the lines suggested in Chapter IV. Leadership
is good and is well supported. There is, however, need for training.
The parents and the school evidence a fine aggressive attitude
and do not allow politics to interfere with independent thought
and action. Membership is fairly constant. The Association has
achieved the following desirable changes:
1. Increase in teachers' salaries.
2. Better housing conditions for the school (the Association influenced the
building of one school).
3. Respect of the entire community toward the Association.
5. Health program, child hygiene program.
6. Parent education plan.
7. Child study groups.
8. Fewer complaints.
9. Better morale in the district.
10. Better police protection.
It still faces the following problems:
1. Necessity for extending the work to affect more homes.
2. Adoption of Unit program to meet the need for unification of activities.
3. Necessity for training in leadership.
4. Extension of publicity program.
5. Participation of members at meetings and the promotion of organized
72 The Parent-Teacher Association
This Association in a large city has an excellent personnel, all
types of people comprising its membership. There are over 300
family memberships, although few men participate in the activities
to any great extent. All teachers of the school belong and about
one-third of the homes are represented. Attendance at meetings is
about 60 per cent.
There are eight regular meetings and these are supplemented
by many study groups. The subject matter and activities are
largely educational with an emphasis on cultural programs. There
is some evidence that a study of problems and needs has been
made. This is due to well-trained leadership of parents, which
is far above the average. The avenue which provides for these
needs is the study group plan, directed by competent leaders. The
Association is reaching out for information relative to the things
which pertain to parent and child education. What is necessary
now is a consideration in detail by the group of Objectives Nos.
10, 11, and 16 as listed in Chapter V. There is indication of
an intelligent conception of aims and purposes of Parent-Teacher
Associations, but the activities which are carried on to attain these
purposes although educational are neither directed nor integrated.
The business of the group is conducted competently by the ex
ecutive committee. Budget procedure is sound and educational
planning has influenced its construction. Friction is not a prob
lem. The school and home seem to be cooperative, and the morale
is high. When child welfare is at stake, the Association is ag
gressive in its support. It is also progressive in its outlook and
is independent in thought and action. Publicity activities are
neither extensive nor well considered. Desirable changes brought
about by the Association include:
1. Program for the study of Mental Hygiene.
2. Closer articulation of school and home.
3. Development of leadership.
4. Health program.
5. Effective study-group plan.
There are, however, still facing the Association the following
1. Development of the men's interest in the work of the Parent-Teacher
Case Studies 73
2. Further training in leadership.
3. An adequate publicity set-up and a study of publicity problems as
suggested in Chapter IV.
4. An integration of program activities so that there is a closer coordination
between functions and activities. This may be accomplished under the
Unit-of-Work system outlined in Chapter VII.
This Association, located in a city of 24,000 population, is unique
in its energetic attempt to include a number of activities, most of
which, are educational and helpful to the school and community.
Although much time is given to community problems, such as
relief (because of economic conditions), use of leisure, and group
cooperation in promoting educational activities, this does [not in
terfere with a splendid Parent Education program, a major aim of
the Association and one for which there is a budgetary allowance.
There are 300 members, holding seven regular meetings a year.
Various groups are represented in the personnel, and the percent
age of attendance is 55 per cent. All, teachers are members.
The percentage of father members is 16. The number of homes
represented is nearly 50 per cent. Leadership in both the As
sociation and the school is above the average, and though there is
some attempt further to train leaders, this is hampered by lack
of training facilities and opportunities.
The Association might do well to discuss at length the objectives
Nos. 3, 4, and 10, listed in Chapter V. When those aims are
comprehended by the entire Association there would probably be
some shifting of interest and energy relative to the activities con
sidered. There is need in this group of a closer integration of the
activities carried on. The excellent educational work done by
the group would be more effective and could easily be blocked out,
under a central idea or theme, to give a complete understanding
of an idea or theme and its relation to a great number of allied
interests which are at present considered independently. Such
an integration of activities would give the membership a clear,
convincing picture of its own problems and the methods and
materials necessary to solve those problems. Committee work
is well planned, and under the unit system the twelve study
groups which consider educational problems could be organized
to discuss concomitant problems or contribute to a more detailed
study of the larger problems of the entire organization.
74 The Parent-Teacher Association
Not enough, work is done witii publicity although, a start has
been made. The reaction of the press is favorable and the com
munity thinks well of this group and gives them much support.
Part of this favorable community attitude is undoubtedly ex
plained by the fact that the Association keeps well within its lay
function and does not try to dictate school or educational policies.
The turnover in membership is not large. The Association is
rated high by the State Congress of Parents and Teachers. It
has achieved the following desirable changes:
1. Health program in school, including nutrition work.
2. Correction of physical defects of the pre-school child.
3. Emergency relief .
5. Better use of leisure time on the part of parents and children.
6. Better morale in school and community.
7. Extension of music program.
8. More interest in and support of schools.
Special problems are:
1. Small membership of men.
2. Excessive number of activities.
3. Lack of courses in the training of leadership.
4. Lack of a complete publicity program.
5. Getting more of the membership to work.
6. Increasing representation of homes in district.
7. Lack of a unified program.
This Association, located in a very large city, has a membership
of about 300. Its personnel, through hard work and splendid
cooperation and interest, have succeeded in bringing about many
desirable changes in relation to general child welfare. Of the
membership, 20 per cent are men but the percentage of teacher
members is conspicuously low. The percentage of homes repre
sented is about 33 per cent. Attendance is approximately 50
per cent. Only about one-half of the membership is used in carry
ing out program activities and Association plans. There are ten
regular meetings in the year, as well as many special meetings in
the form of study groups.
Leadership is above the average. Some training is provided
for leaders of special study groups. There is little or no friction
Case Studies 75
in any of the groups. Committee organization is well planned,
most business procedure being carried on at executive meetings.
The Association stays within its lay function and does not tres
pass on the professional functions of the school. Little construc
tive work has been done with publicity. Although activities are
educational, there is a need of consolidation into a unified pro
gram of parent education. The Association has studied its prob
lems. It now needs to select those of major concern and direct
its activities toward a solution of those problems. The budget
policy is improving and an attempt is being made to include
items for the advancement of an educational program.
The officers are conversant with the true functions of the Parent-
Teacher Association. It is now necessary that they spend more
time in interpreting these to the members. Discussion and re
port at group meetings of Objectives Nos. 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 as
listed in Chapter V would be helpful. The desirable changes
which the Association has produced are:
1. A high type of education to understand the work of the school.
2. Fewer complaints.
3. More friendly teachers and parents.
4. Better health conditions.
5. A program of playgrounds and recreation.
6. Boys clubs.
It still faces the following problems:
1. Poor interest on the part of the teachers, the excellent leadership in
the school could be used to obtain greater cooperation on the part of the teach
2. Failure to extend its work to include more of its membership.
3. Lack of a unified program and a consolidation of activities under one
theme or unit. Such a program should be introduced only when a study of
the Association's needs has been made.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
In general it may be said that the findings of this more intensive
study of the work of the Parent-Teacher Association, as indicated
in the reports on each of the Associations, A to J, as weU as by
data in Table 4, bear out the findings of the more generalized
study of one hundred Associations throughout the United States.
Each Association keeps well within its lay function, but there
is too wide a .range ^Lactivities. In the cases studied there
76 The Parent-Teacher Association
seems to be some recognition of the fact that the value of educa-
noi^educational activities, but there was little attemjt_to do
anything aboutltT" The situation is almost uniformly explainable
by^Ehe lack "of information about scientific program planning.
Only one organization showed an attempted unification of its
program activities and it was not markedly successful.
The major need of these ten Associations is consolidation of their
activities and unification of their program in the manner de
scribed in Chapter VII. This admission, however, only reveals
a deeper need of the Par^t-T^^ 1 ^ Association! thai-log.
Wghly trained leadership fromlts^own rants and^ ofj)ther_skUled
counsellors especidlyJ^rainMAQ^fuMtjpri i** this field. It is im
perative on the one hand that colleges and training schools under
take to provide training for officers and committee chairmen of
these Associations, and just as imperative on the other that the
school system itself take the initiative hi securing the services
of skillful individuals who would assume the responsibility of
studying the family background of children and its relation to the
child's work in school, and assist parents and teachers in the study
of their problems. 4 The combination would inevitably bring
about the unification of program and activities absolutely essential
if the Parent-Teacher Association is to be really serviceable to
parents and the schools.
Most of the^AgsofjaijoTis flr^jreducing
the schools IQJLIIQJIV^
The use of pub
licity to secure community support for its programs has not been
developed by any of the Associations. Study groups are a major
activity butjthey fail toreach enough parents. The Associations
should study carefully ^ the school adminis
tration and Parent-Teacher Association as outlined in Chapter III.
A real financial plan designed to affect all the activities of the As
sociation is another vital necessity.
4 Cf. Chapter I, page 15.
THE UNIT OF WORK IN PROGRAM PLANNING FOR
THE PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
INCE it has been demonstrated in preceding chapters that the
energies and interests of the local Associations are dispersed over
a wide range of unrelated and undirected activity, this chapter
is designed to suggest a method of unifying and integrating program
work in the Parent-Teacher Association. It will be necessary first
to show the underlying principles of a program of work for the
Association; second, to show the futility and ineffectiveness of
the present program found in the average Association; and, third,
to recommend a plan for unifying the program under one general
theme covering a certain period of time and based on carefully
investigated needs of the community.
Program making has not been sufficiently studied by Parent-
Teacher Association leaders. Thejart of planning and preparing,
jghichjnembers wi!Ll^^M^o__acguirejdeas, conceptions, and im-
pi3i^njijLinde^ from most Parent-
Teacher Association progt^o^_M. B. Mason 1 has this to say
"regarding the preparation of a program:
( A plan is a real thing. It comes before action, just as the conception and
drawing of a house come before the building of it. Even with knowledge and
enthusiasm the making of plans is the most difficult task that confronts the
leader. It requires thought to make a plan and thinking is our hardest job.
Knowledge of facts can be acquired by any one. Upon the leader's ability
to think out a plan depends a large measure of success of his Association. ^
Such planning is undoubtedly indispensable to the successful
Parent-Teacher Association. Yet good planning of work pre
supposes that an effort has been made to determine the relation
ship of its aims and purposes to its greatest problems. Real
planning indicates the power to see the plans through. It in
volves comprehension of purpose, location of problem, selection
1 Mason f M. B. Parents and Teachers. Giirn and Company, New York, 1928. Page 244.
78 The Parent-Teacher Association
of activities, and a consolidation of those activities under a series
of worthwhile experiences.
In studying the work of one hundred Associations, the writer
found that the., most disturbing thing to both the administrator
and the Parent-Teacher Association official was the organization
ani*pr^^^tia n of IL^Wfcl?^ ancec '- P^jES 1 ? w ki c k no * O]Q ty
would explain the worthy objects of tne Association but would
really educate the members in the matters taken up for considera
tion. Many Association presidents, who had a critical under
standing of their work, traced their difficulties directly or indirectly
to a faulty and ineffectual program set-up. The writer found
that Association after Association, capable of performing an out
standing piece of work under able leadership, lost sight of its major
responsibility because the random activities selected unwisely by
the Association and related only remotely to any one of the
major functions failed to bring satisfaction to the members or
to realize the real function of the Parent-Teacher Associ
It is possible to combinej^^mtrest with j>eraistent effort on
the part of thejiLmabersjaM appreciable
value to the membership or th<^comnmi^^ the
interest J^>LJ^J^9^ Unity of purpose,
idea, and activity is required for worth-while work.
It was shown in Chapter V that parent_jedi^tio^|s coo&dd-
e *4J^xJP^ ^ u "
cationjtojbe ajuiicti^ the Association, and
thaFthe development , _ of Jntelligent -pansotaj^offil A*? i~ J??y^?stajid-
iQS siLP 1 ? J^oW^ms ^f ^^hildhpodLand _ j&ducation is an ofeiective
tOTrar^whic& the A^sociatio^i shQidd be
directed. Therefore, bearing jn mind the needs aad limitations of
each ^ Asgodatioja^ leaders, committees, and
grougs ? using_every available means, should work toward that
objective. The leaders must be encouraged to identify and de-
Emirtheir problems. They must be given the technique which
will help them initiate and develop a program of work which is
within the limits of the understanding of the group. And a plan
must be developed to challenge the interest of the Association and
to provide for its needs.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers defines "Pro
Unit of Work in Program Planning 79
Tlie annual program of a Parent-Teacher Association is its general plan of
work to meet the needs of the home, the school, and the community as they
relate to the welfare of the child. The object of the program is to enable mem
bers of the Association to realize conditions or discover needs; to formulate
plans to meet those needs; and to stimulate action which will produce the
Under this generalized definition, however, the Associations have
put all those undirected activities which were considered in preced
ing chapters. Failure to understand the importance of a good
unified program has resulted in hit-or-miss planning. This faulty
planning, lack of organization, and the absence of a good tech
nique in devising programs result in a weakening of the contri
bution which even desirable activities could make to the educa
tion of the parents and their understanding of what they are
trying to do.
On page 80 is a typical program showing all the faults men
tioned above. There is in it very little attempt to coordinate or
consolidate the activities of the Association, and almost no recog
nition of the fact that there is a goal toward which to work.
Some of the better local Associations have added to their pro
grams a detailed outline of subjects under discussion with ques
tions to provoke thought and interest. The program on page 81,
from Saginaw, Michigan, illustrates an evening's program.
' This program is illustrative of a step in the right direction toward
planned programs of directed activity. But it represents one
example of this as contrasted with an array of inefficiency and un
Since there exists this general inefficiency, this undirected activ
ity, a method of planning a Unit of Work with the purpose of
eliminating uncoordinated programs foreign to the needs of the
community is proposed for Parent-Teacher Associations. The Unit
of Work Plan is familiar to educators and is already widely and
successfully used in many schools throughout the United States. 2
The application of this method to the Parent-Teacher Association
is new but it seems to offer the best solution to its problems of
It may be objected that such a comprehensive plan is not
*Notably the schools of South Dakota, organized under the direction of Dr. Herbert B.
Bruner of Teachers College, Columbia University, and the social studies work for grades
seven, eight, and nine prepared by Dr. Harold Rugg.
The Parent-Teacher Association
Tues., Sept. 29 Open Meeting 3:15
Tues., Oct. 203:15 P.M.
"Why Be a Member of the P.T.A."
"What Membership in the P.T.A.
PARENT-TBACOBDSR ASSOCIATION 1930-1931
Tues., December 15.
Christmas Spirit: Carol Singing.
Discussions by Mothers
"The Best Gift for Boy or Girl."
Speaker, subject, "Good Books."
Tues., Jan. 18 3;00 P.M.
Toothbrush Drill by School Children
Supervisor of Dental Hygiene will
discuss "Dental Hygiene."
Tues., April 193:15 P.M.
The Problem Child.
Speaker, School Psychologist.
Opportunity for questions.
School work of grades 3, 4, 5 and
special group will be exhibited.
Tues., Feb. 163:15 P.M.
Founders' Day. Speaker, Junior
Supervisor of Adult Education.
Candle Lighting Ceremony.
Tues., March 152:35 P.M.
Seventh Grade Entertains P.T.A.
Members to be guests of seventh
School work of Grades 6 and 7 to be
exhibited in the hall.
Refreshments will be served.
Tues., May 187:30 P.M.
Program by school children, 8:00
P.M. Speaker, Principal; Subject,
The art work of grades 4 to 7 will be
exhibited in the halls.
Tues., June 73:15 P.M.
Reports of Standing Committees and
election of officers.
School work of kindergarten and grades
1 and 2 will be exhibited.
Refreshments will be served.
FrL, Nov. 20 Fathers' Night
gram by School Children.
Fathers are especially urged to attend.
SPECIAL EVENTS TO REMEMBER
October 30, 1:30-4:30 o'clock Food Sale
Week of November 9 Education Week.
The school will issue invitations for parents to visit.
Wednesday evening, March 24 P.T.A. Good Time
(Party for Mothers and Fathers)
suited to the needs of a voluntary organization with a shifting
personnel, in which the participation of the majority of mem
bers is usually limited to listening. The answer to this objec
tion is that the use of this very plan does much to eliminate^
Unit of Work In Program Planning 81
OCTOBER 15, 1931
Topic: "How Children Differ Mentally and the Effect upon the Changing
Drama of Behavior."
Questions for thought and discussion
1. If a child whom you had always considered bright began to be indifferent
to his school work and to create trouble in the schoolroom, what are the
things you would try to find out about him?
2. What is being done in the schools of your community for:
A. Subnormal children?
B. Especially bright children?
C. Children who have behavior difficulties?
S. Mention some of the dangers of too great "freedom and independence
in early childhood.
Suggestions for further reading
Arlitt, Ada H. The Child from One to Six. New York, McGraw Hill, 1930.
Hollingworth, Harry L. Mental Growth and Decline. New York, Appleton,
Woodrow, Herbert L. Brightness and Dullness in Children. Philadelphia,
these characteristics of the ordinary Association. This is not
only theoretically but actually the case. The scheme has been
used with outstanding results in Passaic, New Jersey, where
it has reduced turnover in membership, and shifting attendance at
meetings, and has drawn into participation in activities far more
persons than under the previous type of program planning.
It needs only a moment's reflection to see why this is the case.
That parents want education has been established by the educa
tional authorities to whom we have referred in these pages; that
this desire for learning taps one of the deepest instinctive drives
of human nature also goes without question. Meager nourishment
in response to this need has so far been supplied by the Parent-
Teacher Association, but despite the poverty of its educational
program millions of parents have been only too eager to accept
even these crumbs of knowledge. All that is here proposed is
that a comprehensive plan be adopted which takes consciously
into account the real desire of parents to enrich and expand both
their information and their opportunities for using it.
UNIT OF WORK PLAN
I We may define the Unit of Work for the Parent-Teacher Asso-
Iciation as the organization of a block of related material on any
82 The Parent-Teacher Association
topic or group of topics in such form that everything the Parent-
Teacher Association does in developing its program contributes
toward the understanding of a central idea and its relation to
other concepts in the same or allied fields. The adaptation of
such a plan to Parent-Teacher Association work will enable the
members to see more clearly the purposes of the Association and
to understand why certain subjects or ideas are developed in the
course of their programs.
The adoption of the Unit of Work as the program plan involves
a high degree of thoroughness in the work of the Association.
Clarity of purpose, concentration, cooperation must be exhibited
by all members, leaders, groups, and committees. Committees
on finance, membership, program, publicity, child welfare, and
so forth, must harmonize their efforts into an integrated whole,
and work toward one common purpose. Interest, leadership,
hard work, and cooperative effort in unified activity should result
in an educational experience for the membership which will in
clude new information, changes in attitudes, a wider appreciation
of the problems of public education, and more intelligent support
Chart I shows how various activities may be consolidated and
unified to make one larger whole or unit. To make the unit
complete, enough selected and properly organized activities should
be included. In a unit of work of any kind, objectives, approaches,
analysis of problems, local needs, points of view are indispensable.
It must be remembered that the unit in itself when organized
will accomplish little. Its effectiveness rests on the earnestness,
industry, and intelligence of those who work in it. Properly or
ganized and administered, the unit plan of work should be a valu
able tool, whose intelligent use will enable local Associations to
approach a realization of their true functions and purposes.
Chart II gives a proposed graphic representation of the unit
which is described in the succeeding pages.
Every unit proposed for the Parent-Teacher Association must
include a statement of the aims based on carefully thought-out
needs. Care must be taken to see that all topics and activities
selected are those which will be interesting to the parents. The
unit must be outlined in detail and an analysis of all possible ap
proaches included. There should also be a wide range of topics
Unit of Work in Program Planning 83
The topics subjected to study and research either by experts
or by capable parents or teachers should be presented to the
Association with the highest degree of simplicity and clarity in
order that all members may grasp the theme back of them, Im~
DIAGRAM OP PIAN OF WORK FOR PARENT-TEACHER
RESULT OR OUTCOME
APPRECIATION, ATTITUDE., SUPPORT
The diagram presented here shows how the activities must he employed
to carry out a unified program. Activities must be cumulative and consoli
dated through the proper employment of Leadership, Objectives, Point of
View, Local Need, Approach, Personnel, etc., to secure desired results.
portant considerations in organizing the program for the Associa
1. How are the topics for consideration to be selected?
2. Are they interesting to the membership? Will a discussion
of such topics benefit the membership?
84 The Parent-Teacher Association
GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OP IMPORTANT STEPS IN ORGANIZING A UNIT
Heeds Leading to Selection
of Unit or Topic
Unit or Topic
Point of View
Activities and Procedure
Swaluation of Unit
Result-Goals or Outcomes
Personnel-Working in Unit
Unit of Work in Program Planning 85
3. Are they within the understanding of the group and adapt
able to their needs?
4. Does the presentation of program appeal to the group?
5. Does the group considering the program represent various
points of view?
6. Are the topics of practical application?
7. Are the topics intrinsically worth while and significant?
8. What topics or subjects should be considered at separate
Facts, incidents, knowledge, information, experience, opinions,
illustrations, and interpretations must all be a part of the pre
liminary report before an Association can safely select the unit
which is to occupy its attention for a period of time.
All the above items must be considered in selecting the unit
about which the Association is to center its activities. The task
of preparing a definite unit of work is one of great importance.
Any unit extending over a period of time and utilizing the personnel
of an Association, its interests, energies, and leadership, can justify
its existence only in terms of concrete results. The problems of
the community, if not immediately obvious to the membership,
must be identified by research and study and catalogued in order
of importance. From this list the problem which represents the
most urgent need of the community should be selected as the
subject of immediate attack.
Directing all its energies, activities, and interests toward the
solution of a specific problem, the Association should use every
means to settle the difficulty at hand.
Some units which may be valuable are suggested in the follow
1. The wise use of children's leisure time.
2. Systematic health training.
3. Character training.
4. Worthy home membership.
5. Study habits of children.
6. Fitting the child for an occupation.
7. Reading habits.
8. How children learn.
9. How good citizenship is acquired.
10. Fads and frills in education.
11. The machine age and the school.
86 The Parent-Teacher Association
13. Study of parents* attitude toward sex problems of childhood.
14. Education in relation to vocational problems.
15. New methods in discipline.
16. The extra-curricular activities.
17. Educational and vocational guidance.
18. The cost of public school education.
Around any one of these suggested units may be constructed a
course of activity and study to hold the attention of the Parent-
Teacher Association for any specified length of time. A working
outline of a unit of work as carried on by the Woodrow Wilson
Parent-Teacher Association in Passaic, New Jersey, is included
here. This will serve as an illustration of the method of using
this system better than any theoretical description.
UNIT OF WORK AS CARRIED OUT IN THE WOODROW WILSON
SCHOOL PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION PASSAIC, NEW
"WHAT Is BEING DONE FOR CHILDREN TO-DAY IN THE MODERN SCHOOLS"
(A Unit of Parent Education)
Time Ten months.
NEED OP PROBLEM
Why was unit selected? Parents were indifferent to general attack on
education. In many directions new educational theory was questioned,
many were willing to turn back the progress made in education. Retrench
ment at all costs seemed to be the byword. Many held schools responsible
for the educational ills of civilization and present economic and social life.
Lack of interest and understanding in school activity and school problems was
GENERAL OBJECTIVE FOR UNIT OF WORK
1. To show what the modern school is doing and why.
1. To understand the general aims of education.
2. To appreciate the changes in civilization and how the school is meeting
3. To appreciate the importance of such types of educational service as
vocational education, the fine arts, and their relation to life and the formal
subjects of the curriculum.
4. To learn of the claims and results of the progressive schools, to know
what experimental schools are doing; how such methods may be adapted to
the public school.
Unit of Work in Program Planning 87
5. To appreciate the need of schools; education as an Investment, to safe
guard our civilization.
POINT OF VIEW
Life changes. Therefore business, industry and the schools must change.
A new school with new courses of study, up-to-date methods* must be em
ployed to meet these changes in life. A complex society including a dis
integrated family life as well as the technical machine age has thrust upon
the school many new problems. What is the modern school doing to justify
its existence in the light of added responsibilities?
1. Lack of school support in its various activities.
2. Reduction in school appropriations.
3. Failure of men to participate in Parent-Teacher Association work.
4. Large number of foreign-born parents.
5. Lack of knowledge regarding the traditions and ideals of America.
6. Lack of initiative to interest themselves in school problems, such as
financial support or curricula.
7. Ignorance of school procedure.
1. Discuss changing civilization necessitating a changing school.
2. Study what pupils do when they leave school.
3. Discuss the value of the right kind of education; what the school can
do about it.
4. Consider the effects of the machine age.
5. Discuss education as an investment.
6. Discuss the curriculum of the school.
ACTIVITIES TO BE USED
ORIENTATION DRAMATIZATION OBSERVATION GROUP DISCUSSION
1. Talk by principal on the aims of education "Which Way Is Education
2. Talk by President of the Board of Education "Administering the
1. Discussion of the aims of education by lay leader and supervisor in
public schools. Topics to be discussed are:
a) Definition of education.
b) Aims past and present.
c) Present-day curricula The New School.
88 The Parent-Teacher Association
d) Educational results.
/) Financial support.
g) School control The Pupil's Responsibility.
A) Lectures by superintendent of schools and community leader
"Education as an Investment"; "A Community Without Schools."
1. Demonstration of classroom recitation points to be covered:
a) Method of presentation.
6) Subject matter selected,
c) R61e of the teacher,
c?) Management and organization.
e) Practical application.
Subject School Cpntrol; Pupils Learn by Doing. Reports by pupils on:
a) Self Government.
c) School Papers.
d) Classroom Procedure.
e) Athletics and Games.
/) Safety Education.
A committee should be delegated to visit a progressive experimental school
and report its observations to the general meeting of the Association.
Visit to school by parents under supervision of principal. (Note: This
visit is to give parents a perspective of the work of the school but it is not to
include a study of classroom method, which is a professional function).
The Fine Arts: Exhibit, Explanation and Lecture. Correlation with other
2. Vocational courses.
3. Preparation for life work.
4. Fitting courses to the needs of pupils.
Education as an investment. Debate: superintendent of schools and lay
Unit of Work in Program. Planning 89
Summary and Conclusions of Unit. Report by committee made up of
representatives of the various groups.
EVALUATION RESULTS OR OUTCOMES
1. Does the unit suggest problems for further study which can be dis
cussed at the meetings of various study groups?
2. Is there more interest in the Association?
3. Is there more interest in education and the schools?
4. Is there a better attendance?
5. Is there more social intercourse, more friendly relations?
6. Has there been more opportunity for leadership?
7. Are more members participating in Association work?
8. Are there more men in attendance?
9. Is there more community support of schools?
10. Has the membership acquired important information?
11. Is there a better attitude toward and appreciation of modern education?
PERSONNEL PARTICIPATING IN THE UNIT
1. Parent-Teacher Association membership
a) President and committees.
b) State Congress representative.
2. School principal
a) Staff of teachers.
6) Clerical force to assemble important conclusions.
3. Special lecturers
a) Educational experts within and out of school system.
6) Lay leadership.
4. Board of Education group
a) Superintendent of schools.
6) President of the board.
MATERIALS TO BE USED
1. Reports of the Progressive Education Association*
2. Reports of Lincoln School, New York City.
3. Middletown, Lynds.
4. Changing Civilization, Kilpatrick.
5. National Education Association Reports.
6. Local course of study of public school.
7. Schools of Tomorrow, Dewey.
8. The Great Technology, Rugg.
The following is suggested by the author as another possible
type of unit and the way in which it might be worked out. It is
90 The Parent-Teacher Association
valuable, of course, only as an example. It is necessary for each
Association to decide on its own unit and the methods of working
out its program.
ACQUAINTING THE PARENT WITH THE WORK OF
THE NEW SCHOOL
(A UNIT OF PARENT EDUCATION)
THE CONTROLLING THEME
The development of a new school to meet a changing social order. The
chief aim of this unit of work is to assist parents in an understanding of the
changes which have heen made in the school curriculum to meet the demands
of our changing social order. It would result in giving them a dynamic con
cept of education, in the light of which the futility of the methods of the old
school when applied to changed conditions in modern society would be ap
parent, and the existence of new content, organization, and procedure in the
new school understood.
A. To help parents understand the concept of social change.
B. To help parents realize the social situation of to-day, economically, politi
cally, and socially. This would embrace an understanding of the changing
function of the family.
C. To show how the present social situation affects education: 1
1. The problems it raises for the modern school.
2. The expansion of curriculum that results from an attempt to meet these
3. The necessity for a new type of training for teachers.
4. The dependence of the new school on community faith and support.
POINT OF VIEW
Formerly education was concerned with smaller and more restricted groups.
Pupils of ability were taken care of in restricted fields while the untrained
majority were sent into society to do what they could. For those in the
schools there was very little need of differentiation in subject matter because
specialization was not practiced to any great extent. Pupils who could not
adapt themselves to a regular course of study were dropped as failures and
they made for themselves uncertain places in society. The machine age, the
growth of the factory system, the division of labor, and the consequent em
phasis on specialization have made the schools aware of a new social order
and forced them to meet these changes in society by compensating changes
in the school system, by differentiating their courses, by changing their cur
ricula, and by adding prevocational and vocational courses. In addition,
they have made provision for guidance, appreciation, and experience courses,
teaching the wise use of leisure time. The responsibility now thrust upon
1 This would involve developing some comprehension of the philosophy, methods, curriculum
and organization of the old school.
Unit of Work in Program Planning 91
the schools by church, home, and society in general has resulted in these
very necessary changes in curricula.
It is necessary, therefore, that the parent understand the organization,
problems, and plans of the new school. A discussion of the problems suggested
below will help the parents toward this understanding and will at the same
time show them their place in the educational Me of the child under these
new conditions. Problems suggested will, of course, reflect specific com
munity needs and should therefore originate with the members of the Parent-
Teacher Association themselves.
1. Persistent reverence for the Three R's ultra-conservatism.
2. Indifference of public to function of the school.
3. Inability to recognize real teaching.
4. Failure on the part of some people to appreciate the new and special
functions of the school.
5. Low salaries for teachers; mismanagement of government tax levies.
6. Ignorance of the public as to school methods.
7. Failure of the administrator properly to use and work with community
8. The changing function of the family and family relationships.
9. Improper use of leisure time.
10. Pernicious effect of tabloid, movie, etc.
11. Technological processes and effect on school and community.
12. Proper school support.
13. Misfits in society.
Having now selected the unit, having decided upon the aims and points of
view, having also decided upon the specific problems which relate to the
particular Association, the unit may be organized. Associations should be
extremely careful about the manner of this organization. The approach de
termines the success or failure of the unit. An initial discussion to challenge
the interest of the parent and to show how the subjects to be considered are
related to the life of the member is pertinent. It is imperative that the ap
proach be adapted to a particular community and considered in the light of
the parents' comprehension and experience. A right approach will make the
parents work for their Association, will stimulate interest in the activity under
the unit plan, and will produce the best final results of the work.
Approaches may be selected from the following questions which should
stimulate the interest of the parents and help them in determining which ap
proach or approaches they should select to begin a study of their problems.
1. Why do pupils fail?
2. What do pupils do when they leave school?
3. What would a community be without a school?
4. Compare white collar jobs with the trades. Why are they both neces
92 The Parent-Teacher Association
5. Discuss what made the schools change their plans.
6. At what age do most pupils leave school?
7. How is education related to success in life?
8. What increasing family problems have you noticed?
9. What has technology to do with modern schools?
10. What are the uses of experiences in a child's life?
11. What value education?
12. What are educational costs? Explain increases.
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES
According to Hopkins 3 there are nine different kinds of activities which may
be used in carrying through the unit of work. In this particular unit, five
are employed. Whatever type of activity is adopted, care must be exercised
to see that the activities bring into play the big and vital ideas which one
wishes the parents to secure from the unit. Other points to remember in
selecting activities are:
1. Will the activities help to attain established objectives for the unit?
2. Are they of interest to parents?
3. Will they help carry out the aims of the Association?
4. Should they control the program of the Association?
5. Will they provide experiences to gain better understanding of the unit
or topics to be considered?
6. Will they help parents secure proper concepts of the idea which is being
developed in the unit?
7. Will they help parents to:
a) Achieve the purposes of the Association?
b) Attack problems independently?
c) Interest more members?
d) Help discover needs and solve problems.
e) Secure greater cooperation?
/) Increase the prestige of the Association by the effectiveness of its
A. Group Discussion Activities
1. Discuss the aims of education. Define education.
2. Have a speaker talk on "The New Versus the Old School." Have an
exhibit of school work.
3. Discussion on education for worthy home membership. How family
ties have broken. New problems of the school.
4. What industry demands of the new school. Industrial and vocational
5. The use of leisure and the new school. The five-day week.
6. Economic demands. Costs of education. Education as an investment.
"The nine types are: 1. Orienting, 2. Building, 3. Research, 4. Group Discussion, 5. Crea
tive Activities, 6. Appreciative, 7. Experimental, 8. Drill and Practice, 9. Culminating.
Hopkins, L. Thomas. Educational Method. Vol. XI, October, 1931. Page 7.
Unit of Work in Program Planning 93
B. Observation Activities
1. Teacher and class demonstration of courses of study.
2. Visits to experimental schools.
3. Exhibits of school work.
4. Special activities in classroom.
C. Research Activities
1. Study of needs by the membership.
2. Study of new educational methods by a committee.
3. Report of such committees.
4. Report of research activities as carried on by National or State Congress.
D. Orientation Activities
1. Report on the study of Association needs.
2. Acquaintance with the problem discussion.
3. Committee report on possible attack or approach.
E. Evaluation of Test of Unit
1. Is there an increase in attendance?
2. Knowledge and interpretation of the school.
3. Higher family standards.
4. Does it facilitate acquaintance of teachers and parents?
5. Cooperation in membership; in working out plans,
6. Do outcomes attained satisfy needs? Are felt needs satisfied?
7. Larger membership.
8. Greater faith in education and school by parents.
9. Objectives set up and realized.
10. Member participation in Parent-Teacher Association work.
11. Greater sense of responsibility toward child training.
12. Knowledge of technique and devices used by schools.
MATERIALS TO BE USED
1. Reports of Bicentennial Conference on Parent Education.
2. Parent Education National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Hand
3. Reports of Lincoln School, New York City.
4. Books on modern education:
a) Changing Civilization, Kilpatrick.
b) Child-Centered School, Rugg and Shumaker.
c) Middktown, Lynd.
d) American Road to Culture, Counts.
e) The Great Technology, Rugg.
5. Courses of study:
a) Rugg's Social Studies Course.
6) Lincoln School Units of Work.
c) California State Plan of Parent Education.
d} Plan of New College, Teafchers College, Columbia University.
e) National Education Association reports, etc.
/) Progressive Education Magazine, Washington, D. C.
94 The Parent-Teacher Association
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The program of the local Parent-Teacher Association determines
the social significance of the organization, its attendance, and its
membership. Since this is so, the program is deserving of more
serious consideration than has been given to it in the past. That
the present method of program-making is demonstrably unsatis-
jfactory has been shown in the study of Association activity and ,
(results obtained and by the testimony of over one hundred ASSOCH
ation presidents who experience difficulty in program-planning.
The average program is formal and stereotyped, consisting of a
number of unplanned and unrelated activities, whereas it should
be conceived as an organized plan including the proper activities
to meet the demands of the home, school, and community as well
as to further the proposed functions and purposes of the organ
It is in this connection that the unit of work system, now widely
and successfully utilized in the schools of the United States, offers
a solution to the problem of program-planning in the Parent-
There is every reason to believe that the local Associations will
improve their efficiency and increase their value to the community
if they embark upon the plan suggested in this chapter. Their
work will be more effective when they have analyzed and studied
local needs and approached specific problems under the unit of
work system. Such a unit will use all the energies of the member
ship in a concerted drive toward an accepted and definite objective.
Its success depends in a large measure upon the setting up of the
necessary objective, the adoption of a correct point of view, the
right approach, and a careful selection of directed educational
An experimental use of the unit of work system during the past
year by the Parent-Teacher Association of the Woodrow Wilson
School in Passaic, New Jersey, has resulted in a marked increase
in the activity and efficiency of that group.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
'INGE its tentative beginnings as early as 1855, in the mothers*
clubs and reading circles that grew up in connection with the first
kindergartens, the movement for Parent-Teacher Association in
all types of schools has grown until it has assumed an importance
which makes it a factor to be reckoned with in a general con
sideration of educational policies in the United States. We find
the Parent-Teacher Association diffused throughout the entire
country, with an official national organization which alone numbers
1,511,203 individual members, while many other thousands of
parents belong to independent organizations which carry on similar
work but are not affiliated with the National Congress.
At its inception, the Mothers' Club was designed primarily to
help its members learn more about the nature and nurture of the
child; but as such organizations multiplied and spread into the
elementary and high schools and as social conditions changed, for
women especially, this primary purpose was lost sight of in the
pressure of other interests of a more active kind. The diffusion
of interests was such as to amount to a virtual abandonment of the
principles of the founders, although these were still acknowledged
and remained a latent force in the organization. The official
national organization, the National Congress of Parents and Teach
ers, founded in 1897, did very little to check this diffusion of
interests, and while working for extension of the Parent-Teacher
movement did not formulate a constructive and unified program
for its members which would have assisted and guided them to
realize the potentialities inherent in the original conception.
Consequently, the Association has not to this day fully developed
its possibilities as a social force.
Meanwhile, however, the educators, who, on the whole, had been
indifferent or hostile toward the Parent-Teacher Association, have
under the influence of modern educational theory come to view it
in a new light. Many of the most forward-looking among them
96 The Parent-Teacher Association
now regard it as a medium for the parent education which is vital
to the success of the modern school. And many leaders of the
Parent-Teacher Association are also realizing that this program of
parent education represents the most fruitful contribution which
the Association can make to the welfare of the child. As yet,
however, there is no widespread reflection of these opinions of the
educators and leaders in the work carried on by the rank and file of
local Associations. Nor is there any concerted propaganda to
bring about a re-orientation of program and activities which shall
unify theory and lagging practice.
There would, therefore, seem to be necessary at this point a
re-statement of principles and purposes in order that the aims of
the organization might be achieved and its activities directed
toward definite accomplishment. Furthermore, a relationship be
tween school administration and Parent-Teacher Association needs
to be established which will enable parents to be admitted to a
legitimate participation in the educational process on one hand
while on the other the school authorities can maintain their expert
status. v.Only by a directed attemptj,o achieve this end can the
Parent-Teacher Association justify its existence, its program,
organization, and cost of maintenance.
As an existing organization within the limits of which much
might be accomplished, the Parent-Teacher Association has a great
potentiality of service. That its activities have unfortunately
been misdirected to a very great extenFmjpair^ the iirmediate
value of its .worKJbut does not impair the potential value,
^Any^fudy, such as this dnelina^taken By^Eeliuthor, will in
evitably reveal to the impartial observer serious but remediable
defects. Since this is true, the author here presents a list of specific
recommendations by which the efficiency and value of the Parent-
Teacher Association work may be increased.
1 Undoubtedly the most serious single factor which has militated
against the success of the Parent-Teacher Association has been its
pose and funct^^JkeO^
r ealizeL their Joh .andjanderstand their jdutifisjto.tibfe^|ld
and to the community. Too often entertainments, social inter-
Summary, Conclusions, Recommendations 97
course^aod unrelated, program activities have comprised the plan
of work outlined by the local . Associations to the virtual exclusion
of worthwhile j^TOatfo^ There would,
therefore, seem to be a discrepancy between the theoretical under
standing of purposes and the activities in which the Associations
are actually engaged. The primary recommendations are, there
I. That a direct relationship be established between the activi
ties and the theoretical understanding of functions and admitted
purposes of the Parent-Teacher Association. Since 20,000 units
affiliated with the National Congress look to it for leadership in
defining purpose and suggesting activities, and since its prestige
among these groups is great, the following suggestions are made
with respect to the National Congress:
A. That the National Congresajom with educators in an effort
to its member Assoc^
coicj^^jeorgsyQizatiQnjDf tlieir^pmgmms. This would necessitate
the abandonment of all unrelated interests and a clear recognition
that the purpose of the movement can never be realized through a
program of random activities with only a tenuous relation to func
B. That the National Congress, in presenting such an outline
of functions and activities, provide for sufficient elasticity and
flexibility of program to permit local Associations to care for their
own particular problems.
C. That the National^ongres^rggmi&-loca1 unite to make
gram of parent education. Thus, standards for admission to the
TSlHionaT Congress should include a carefully organized plan of
program activity which shows an understanding of proposed aims
and functions and relates activities to these.
IL That an authoritative educational body (such as the
Department of Superintendence of the National Education Associ
ation) appoint a committee to analyze and define the strictly pro
fessional aspects of educational practice which it regards as the
special province of the school and to study further the relationship
which should exist between the administrative authorities and the
Parent-Teacher Association. This should also include the specific
98 The Parent-Teacher Association
functions which concern both groups and which show the mutual
interdependence of the two groups. The deliberations and recom
mendations of this committee should be widely circulated among
educators to serve the purpose of clarifying much of the confusion
which now exists on these two points. It is suggested in connection
with this recommendation that representatives of parents' associ
ations be given an opportunity to sit with the committee.
III. That such authoritative agencies as the various uni
versities and teachers colleges take the initiative in providing for
the careful training of leaders by means of institutes and definite
courses, both credit and non-credit. The National Congress could
be asked to cooperate with these institutions. The research and
study of these trained leaders will help the local units to consolidate
their activities and move forward with a carefully planned and
IV. That further experimentation with the unit of work
system described in this study as a method of program planning be
carried on* Under this system an Association must determine
what, in respect to general aims and purposes, are its greatest
problems. It must then select activities relating to these problems
which shall engage the interest and activity of the entire Associ
ation over a specified length of time. In this way the program
may be consolidated into a series of worthwhile experiences under
a central idea or "unit."
V. That Associations continue to be self-supporting. This
should not, however, prevent the local educational system from
assisting the work of the Parent-Teacher Association in any way
possible, once the policy of self-support has been established.
VI. That the Associations be given definite status in the
boards of education by-laws, which should define their rights.
This is required for stability and prestige. The Associations should
remain independent, organized voluntarily by interested parents,
and should exercise no legal control over the schools.
VII. That an efficient publicity program be set up under the
direction of leaders trained by state associations or other central
ized agencies responsible for general organization and adminis
tration, and that these give considerable time to a study of more
efficient means of arousing the interest of the public and the mem
VIII. That the Associations take a definite stand in helping to
Summary, Conclusions, Recommendations 99
solve educational problems. They must acquire social power not
only by discussing the fundamental factors in education but by
taking appropriate action when the education of the child is at
state. Giving of constructive help when school budgets are
slashed and effective protest against political interference with the
schools are two examples of opportunities for action open to them
which are definitely related to their primary objective.
IX. That Associations take as their goal a representative
membership from the community, large and broad enough to typify
the thinking and philosophy of the particular locality and to insure
that representative policies and procedures receive the approval
and sanction of the district.
X. That the Parent-Teacher Association refrain from mak
ing decisions in those provinces which are highly professional and
therefore strictly belong to the school. This does not mean that
the Association should not familiarize itself with the work and
philosophy of the school.
XI. That school administrators recognize their responsibility
in educating parents in regard to the school's work and procedure.
Not until the educator with zeal and interest is willing to guide
parents into channels of proper activity and to interpret to them
modern education will the Parent-Teacher Association accomplish
the purposes for which it is organized.
XII. That the teaching force of the school recognize its re
sponsibility to contribute actively in every way possible toward
the furtherance of the aims of the Parent-Teacher Association.
XIII. That wider use be made of the device of planning the
business procedure of the meeting through the executive com
mittee. Business and entertainment features should besubordi-
nated to the educationaTparLof the meeting.
XIV. That wider use be made of the device of organizing study
groups within the Parent-Teacher Association to pursue intensive
study, under the direction of competent authorities, of problems
based on the needs and interests of these smaller groups.
XV. That all financial and business transactions of the Associ
ations be based on a sound accounting procedure.
XVI. That the Parent-Teacher Associations and parents'
associations operating independently of the National Congress be
subjected to careful study in the very near future. These are so
numerous and present so many opportunities for local experi-
100 The Parent-Teacher Association
mentation that they would undoubtedly yield much valuable
information. For example, the United Parents Association of
New York City has made a unique and invaluable contribution to
the whole movement both in analyzing aims, functions, and pur
poses, and in devising new methods of organization and community
XVII. That the turnover of membership be studied further.
This problem has not received adequate attention. Careful study
of it should yield information regarding the stability of these local
units and the extent of the influence they actually exercise.
BUTTERWORTH, J. E. The Parent-Teacher Association and Its Work. New
York, Macmillan Company, 1928.
*Note: Appendix C of this book by Dr. Butterworth (pp. 137-41) includes a list of selected
unannotated references which consider the work of the Parent-Teacher Association and various
aspects of education particularly useful to parents and teachers.
From the date of this bibliography materials and references which have to
do with the work of the Parent-Teacher Association may be found in the
1. Education Index. A cumulative author and subject index to a selected
list of educational periodicals, books, and pamphlets. H. W. Wilson
Co., New York.
2. United States Office of Education, Department of the Interior, Washing
ton, D. C. Gives out data regarding literature developed in Parent-
Teacher Association work.
3. National Congress of Parents and Teachers, 1201 Sixteenth Street, N.
W., Washington, D. C. Prepares periodically a list of books helpful
to the parent and teacher.
In gathering material for this study reference was made to the following books,
reports, and magazine articles;
THE WORK OF THE PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
BUTTERWORTH, JULIAN E. The Parent-Teacher Association. New York,
Macmillan Company, 1928.
GOLDEN, MRS. EMMA. Study of Parent-Teacher Associations in North Dakota.
University of Minnesota, 1928.
INTERNATIONAL BUREAU OP EDUCATION. Cooperation of School and Home.
Geneva. Rue des Maraichers 44, Geneva, Switzerland, 1929.
MASON, MARTHA SPRAGUE. Parents and Teachers. New York, Ginn and
MCANDREW, WILLIAM M. "Parent Teachers Getting Formidable." School
and Society, Vol. 29, June 1929, pp. 712-22.
METTEN, J. A. Survey of the Work of Local Parent-Teacher Associations of
Ohio During the School Year 1928-1929. Ohio State University (M. A.
MOEHLMANN, A. B. "Defining Rights and Duties of Parent-Teacher Asso
ciations. Nation's Schools, Vol. 7, June 1931, pp. 55-59.
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS. Handbook. Washington,
NATIONAL CONGRESS OP PARENTS AND TEACHERS. Proceedings for 1928-
1932. Washington, D. C., 1932.
102 The Parent-Teacher Association
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS. Through the Years.
Washington, D. G., 1930.
"New Force in Education." Proceedings of Conference Held at Teachers
CoEege under auspices of National Congress of Parents and Teachers and
Teachers College, December 5th and 6th, 1929.
REEVE, MARGARET W., AND LOMBARD, ELLEN G. The Parent-Teacher As
sociations, 1924-1926. Bulletin, U. S. Bureau of Education, 1927. No. II.
REEVE, M. W. "Countries in All Parts of the World Are Cooperating to
Bring Together Home and School." School Life, Vol. 15, No. 5, November
ROGERS, MARIA L. A Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Parents and
Teachers. New York, United Parents Association, 1931.
State School Improvement Associations. Rural School Pamphlet No. 42,
U. S. Bureau of Education, Washington, D. G., 1927.
WATKINS, FLORENCE V. "Courses in Parent-Teacher Association Work."
School and Society, Vol. 9, May 11, 1929, pp. 599-602.
MATERIALS ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF EDUCATION WHICH
ARE PARTICULARLY USEFUL TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS
INTERESTED IN PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION WORK
BRUNER, H, B. South Dakota Course of Study. Department of Instruction,
Department of Curriculum Revision, Pierre, South Dakota, 1930.
FARLEY, BELMONT. What to Tell the Public About Our Schools. Bureau of
Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, 1929.
HOPKINS, L. T. " Creative Education." Educational Method, Vol. 9, October
1931, pp. 1-8.
HART, JOSEPH K. Adult Education. New York, Thomas Y. Crowell Co.,
LINDEMAN, E. G. "Sociological Aspects of Parent Education." Journal of
Educational Sociology, Vol. 5, April 1932, pp. 500-07.
MOEHLMANN, A. B. Public School Relations. New York, Rand McNally
NEWLON, JESSE H. Paper on "Parent Education," presented at Biennial
Conference of National Council of Parent Education. Washington, D. G.,
REYNOLDS, ROLLO G. Newspaper Publicity for the Public Scfiools. New York,
A. G. Seiler, 1922.
Tables and Charts
Outline, Rating Scale, and Questionnaire
NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS AS REPORTED
FROM THE STATE OFFICES OF BRANCHES OF THE NATIONAL,
CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS IN 1932
(No Data from States Not lasted)
South Carolina - KSany (S.I. A.)
DISTRIBUTION OF 20,072 LOCAL UNITS OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF
PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS AMONG DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCHOOLS
Grade School 16,427 jjjl
Senior High School 722* 813
Junior High School 433* I
Pre-School 308 I
Parochial School 91 |
Senior College 3 \
Kindergarten 17 \
Church 15 1
Junior College 7 (
Private 7 I
*The Junior-Senior High School Associations form only about & of the units but have
nearly t\ of the members.
The Parent-Teacher Association
THE NUMBEK OF ACTIVITIES CABBIEB ON IN THE VABIOXJS STATES FOR THE
YEABS 1929, 1930, 1931, AS REPORTED BY THE PBESBDENT OF THE STATE
The rank given indicates the number of times the activity was mentioned by the
President of the State Congress
Summer Rormd-Up (Cor
recting Physical De
Beautification of School
Physical Education . . .
tion . .....
Character Education. .
Leisure (Use of Leisure
School Banking (Thrift)
Poster Contest. . . .
Rural Education . .
HnmaTie Education ....
Mental Hygiene . .
Spiritual Training, . , . , u
Nutrition , . . .
Narcotic Education. . .
The above table includes only activities reported by State Officials, from Proceedings of
National Congress of Parents and Teachers, "President's Reports," 1929, 1930, 1931. Wash
ington, D. C.
HOW 100 PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS RAISE THEIR FUNDS*, IN ORDER
ntB, Movies, etc. 4*
Card Parties 20
Sales (food, candy, clothing, etc*) 19
Dramatics, Operettas 17
Carnivals or Bazaars 10
Subscriptions or Donations, Gifts 8 TffffWn
Lectures 7 HBjj|
Athletics 5 Bsflp
Conmunity Projects 5 991
Theater Bar ties 4
Finance Gcmnittee n
Miscellaneous 2 g|
*Dues, not included above, are means of support of every association.
PROPORTIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME, AS TO SOURCE, OF
Dues per member 5^ 81
national Life Membership 16
State Life Membership 1.
Delinquent Dues .
108 The Parent-Teacher Association
How 100 ASSOCIATIONS SPEND THEIB MONEY, IN ORDER OF FREQUENCY
Iiuipment, Playgrounds , Books,
Pictures, and Radios
Child Welfare, Relief
Dues, State and national
Convention, Deletes, etc.
Stationery, Printing, etc.
nutrition, lunch room, etc*
Banquets, Teacher Receptions
Rent of Meeting Places
Publicity and Publication i
Boy and Girl Gamps
*This item is on the increase. The economic condition of the country has given an im
petus to the spending of money by the Association for relief.
DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENDITDBES OP THE NATIONAL CONGRESS
Presidents' Fund $ 3,554.14
Summer Round-up 4,200.00
Administration Fund 3,641.20
Officers' Departments* & Committees' Expenses 894.02
National Office 11,769.07
International Federation of Home & School 1,000.00
Convention Denver, Colorado 3415.55
Auditor National Office 100.00
Auditor & Bond Treasurer 175.00
Treasurer's Expense including clerical help 500.00
Traveling Expenses Executive Committee 7,379,39
Exhibits (Outside) 257.73
Royalty "Parents & Teachers" to Endowment Fund 174.15
Endowment Fund National & State Life Memberships 2,431.90
Balance 1929-30 Administration 561.52
President's Fund Revolving Additional 300.00
National Office Revolving Additional 300.00
Convention, 1931, Hot Springs, Ark 46.91
The Parent-Teacher Association
A MEASURING SCALE FOR PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS*
(ShowingWeighted Judgments of 75 Jurors)
I. Programs and Activities
A. Preliminary meeting of the executive com
mittee for making general plans 5
B. Methods of planning programs and activities . 5
1. Definite study of educational needs
2. Preparation of programs early in the year.
3. Focusing of programs upon relatively few
C. The year's objectives and their attainment ... 11
1. Giving members an understanding of the
objectives and methods of the school
2. Teaching members to apply accepted edu
cational objectives and methods to the out-
3. Facilitating acquaintance among parents
4. Aiding in educating the community to de
sirable aspects of the school's program. . . .
5. Raising funds under certain conditions ....
6. Under certain conditions giving to the
school officials judgment as to where the
school fails or succeeds
D. Maintaining a reasonable balance between
entertainment and non-entertainment features 2
E. Reasonable adherence to educational problems
of children as contrasted with general commu
nity problems 2
F. Non-interference with work of board or teach-
G. Percentage total membership utilized during
the year in some way 2
H. Extension work, such as work in unorganized
territory; collecting funds; Founders' Day. ... 1
A. Committee organization 4
B. Financial policies 4
1. Preparation of budget early in year
2. Budget in keeping with educational program
3. Reasonable adherence to this budget
C. Promptness in attending to state and national
D. Dignified publicity of parent-teacher matters. 4
E. Sending delegates to state and district conven
F. AJbsence of friction and prevalence of spirit of
cooperation among members 3
G. Meetings 3
1. Frequency (number that can be held
2. Regularity (each month according to
III. Membership and Attendance
A. Per cent of parents who are members 3
B. Per cent of men members 3
C. Per cent of teachers who are members 3
D. Per cent of membership in average attendance 3
E. Per cent of teachers in average attendance ... 3
IV. Program of Parent Education
A. Preliminary study of problem 3
B. Focusing program on needs 3
C. Organization 6
D. Study groups 8
1. Classification of interests ....
3. Subjects or material covered
4. Financial support of board of education . . .
Summer Round-Up (location and means for cor
recting physical and mental defects of children) . . 8
A. Discovering of defects
B. Organization and procedure; set-up and plan,
C. Results or accomplishments; actual number
of defects corrected as a result of Parent-
Teacher Association leadership
VI. Effectiveness in bringing about changes for th*
better in regard to child development; social
adjustment in and out of school; school hous
ing; better teaching; better community atti
GRAND TOTAL 10
*Adapted from Butterworth's Self Measuring Scale for Parent-Teacher Associations. (The
Parent-Teacher Association, Butterworth, J. E. Macmillan Co., 1928.)
The Parent-Teacher Association
EXAMPLE OF THE ORGANIZATION OF A STATE BRANCH OF THE NATIONAL
CONGRESS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS
New Jersey Congress of Pa rent a and Teachers*
State Board of Managers
President 1 '"
Its Own Body
. Extension and
1 State Office
*Notes: 1. The Convention is the policy forming group of the Congress. The Board of
Managers carries out the policies and conducts the business of the Congress between
2. The State Congress elects its own officers, adopts its own by-laws and legislates for its
local units. State by-laws and standing rules of a State branch must be in harmony
with those in the National Congress.
3. States vary in their organization. The above is an example of one type of organization.
Some states are divided into districts for purposes of administration. In some states
large cities having school systems separate from the county school system, organize city
councils to unify the work in the city.
f The presidents of the state branches are members of the Board of Managers of the National
Congress of Parents and Teachers.
RELATION OF NATIONAL COMMITTEES TO STATE, DISTBICT,
COUNCIL, AND LOCAL UNITS
Ooagreaa of Farttta tad Teaeiaara*
Ooatalt tee-State Ocugrosa of treats aad faaelws l
Chart shows through which channels various committees work. Where the city is large,
the county council is omitted occasionally, but most often it is retained because the city has
a city Superintendent and the county a County Superintendent and the two systems work
independently. " A. " Most frequent course.
^Prepared by the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Washington, D. C.
The Parent-Teacher Association
ORGANIZATION OP NATIONAL CONGRESS (1930)
Kational Congress of Parents and Teachers
47 , Hawaii, and District of Columbia
' Council j
^Convention is included In chart because of its power as a policy forming group.
fDistrict is used in some states to divide state into smaller units.
RELATION OF THE PARENT>TEACHER ASSOCIATION TO EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Board of Education
GOVERNING BODIES OF NATIONAL CONGRESS OP PARENTS AND TEACHERS
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PABEHTS AND TEACHEHS J
| National Board of
State Pres. Nat
jy^Stateg, c ^ Off
^ n - ;.*..!
3 Elected at large
Board of Managers
Irmnn n? j
! 1 ]
v _ ^
Editor Child Welfare
E ducat ion
1 Educational " 1 1
Beaearch and ^
1 Publicity " 1 *
Field Secretary |
& Second llhlrd to seventh
Presidents pirectors of De-
to President partments
| Departments ]
Third "Vice Pres. I
Director of I
'ourth Vice Pres.
Fifth Vice Pres.
Director of Dept
Sixth Vice Pres.
Dept. of Hone
Student Loan &
Effect of al
cohol and nar
The Parent-Teacher Association
DUTIES OF MEMBERS IN THE PABENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
At Begular Meetings
IQ.ee t Delegates
Participate in Programs
At Annual Meetings
Receive Annual Reports
Child Welfare Magazine
Pre-Scbool Study Circles
Other Committees and
Their Services, Surreys
programs, Exhibits v
Study Groups s etc.
AN OUTLINE OF A GOOD PROJECT IN STUDY GROUPS
A YEAR'S PLAN FOR STUDY GROUPS AS SUGGESTED BY THE LINCOLN SCHOOL
PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION, NEW YORK CITY
I. GRADE GROUP MEETINGS
Parents of every grade to meet in October and again in the spring to dis
cuss with teachers the work of the grade and plan for closer cooperation.
One of these grade meetings to be an evening meeting, so fathers can meet
with teachers. (Several grades could meet on the same evening to make it
easier for the teachers.)
These Grade Meetings to (1) be arranged for by grade representatives; (2)
have programs planned by grade representatives working with teacher, in co
operation with the trained leader; (3) be presided over by grade representa
Aim for 100 per cent attendance at these two meetings of each grade group.
Other grade meetings could be called by the teacher when desired. Grade
representatives would assist teacher in getting group together.
Any teacher or any parent could suggest matters which she would like
to have discussed at these meetings; but these suggestions would be made
in advance, and through the grade representatives.
Grade representatives chosen by parents in grades.
Several preliminary meetings of grade representatives for discussion of
technique in leading meetings.
H. SEVERAL ELECTIVE STUDY GROUPS
Make out a course of study covering the large topics in each series, with a
two- or three-year sequence, so that parents can look ahead and plan their
Allow flexibility in this program, with some meetings to be devoted to par
ticular needs of the group; e.g.:
Group 1. The Physical and Psychological Development of the Young Child.
Group 2. The Physical and Psychological Development of the Pre-Adoles-
Group 3. The Physical and Psychological Development of the Adolescent.
Groups 1 to 3: Led by professional leader. Assigned readings bringing
parents up to date on scientific findings on the subject. Experts brought in
as needed. Parent participation encouraged, but leader carrying responsibility
of planning and leading discussion.
Group 4. One series each year on some study of social significance. Talks
by experts or persons of experience in social work. Also a laboratory project,
such as providing a recreation club for boys of neighborhood who now con
stitute a social problem for the school.
Group 5. One "seminar" group where parents themselves contribute from
their own study and experience. Selected specific topics, useful to parents
of any age child, such as: "Training Children in the Use of Money." (Par-
118 The Parent-Teacher Association
ents taking this course would expect to assume much responsibility for making
it a success; they would read; prepare material to present to the others; etc.)
Some of the contributions of this group would be used in Groups I to 3. Grade
representatives would be encouraged to join this group.
DEFINITION OF STUDY GROUPS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS
"Study Groups" may be denned as a number of smaller groups of parents
of the regular membership meeting to discuss problems of interest in an in
timate way. Objectives of such groups may be:
1. To facilitate acquaintanceship and stimulate cooperative effort among
2. To provide for the particular interest of parents.
3. To give the parent the responsibility of planning and contributing to the
project or problem*
4. To give parents a greater insight into the problems of the school and home.
5. To give parents a better understanding of their function as parents.
6. To contribute or pass on well thought out "findings" and results to
7. To discover potential leaders.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDY GROUPS
1. Organize study groups according to grades. Have a grade representa
tive responsible to develop plans and programs. Teacher should be relieved
of details and planning.
2. Initiating study groups needs careful planning and organization to give
leaders understanding and skill to carry out plans and to develop an interest
and understanding on the part of the groups in the idea and in the plans.
3. An attempt should be made to find a unity of interest. Parents should
be made conscious that there are problems common to most of the group
which can be considered by all with profit.
4. Teachers should be included in the plans and work of the Study Group,
5. Both the expert and local talent should be used to solve its problems.
6* Include whole membership. Plan definite " tie-up" between all study
groups and with the larger general meetings of the Association. Someone
should be delegated with this responsibility.
7. Lay leaders are necessary to secure desirable results but they must have
opportunity for training in leadership.
8. Several types of study groups should be set up to provide for the various
interests of the groups,
9. Parents must be given the opportunity to indicate their preference in
regard to the topics to be considered and opportunity to participate to the
fullest extent in all meetings.
SUMMER1ROUND-UP OF NATIONAL CONGRESS
I. PARTICIPATION OF PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS IN SUMMER ROUND
NUMBER OF J?
OoTnmniTnHifis rfippflSfiYitfid . . ,
City Groups represented . .
Town Groups represented
Rural Groups represented
II. PHYSICAL DEFECTS DISCOVERED AND CORRECTED IN SUMMER ROUND
NTJMBEK OF DEFECTS
120 The Parent-Teacher Association
III. NUMBER OP CHILDREN RECEIVING IMMUNIZATION AGAINST:
IV. NUMBER OP CHILDREN ENTERING SCHOOL (KINDERGARTEN
OR FIRST GRADE), FALL, 1930 102,490
NUMBER OF THESE CHILDREN RECEIVING ROUND-UP EXAMINA
NUMBER OF PARENTS OR GUARDIANS PRESENT AT EXAMINATION 37,965
V. NUMBER OP THESE UNITS WHICH MET NATIONAL CAMPAIGN
REQUIREMENTS AND RECEIVED THE CERTIFICATE AWARD 1,462
COPY OF SCALE BATING IMPORTANT OBJECTIVES OF THE
AS RANKED BY 40 ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS AND 40 SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
(See Table 1, page 50)
The following list of objectives of Parents or Parent-Teacher Associations
has been assembled by compiling all of the objectives suggested as desirable
by educators, experts, and officials in the field of P.T A. work, such as state
and local presidents.
Assuming a typical association, will you rank these in the order of impor
tance which in your judgment they should assume in the Association's pro
gram? No. 1 means that you feel the objective so ranked is most important,
and No. 2 means that which should be the next concern of the Association.
A rank of 17 indicates the objective which in your judgment should receive the
least attention of the list there given.
The list is made in random order and does not indicate the author's pref
1. Making material gifts to the school, such as pictures, radios, various
kinds of equipment, not provided by the school board.
2. Financing experimental work in the school curriculum, to be used
as demonstrations, with the expectation that they will later be taken
over by the school board. Such activities in the past have in
cluded open-air classes, milk for undernourished children, school
3. Providing general knowledge of the school philosophy, curriculum
making in relation to the changing social situation, teaching meth
ods and their purpose, school procedures, such as ungraded classes,
psychological testing, etc., for membership and community.
4. Providing information to bring about changes for the better in
regard to child development, habits of learning, social adjustment
in and out of school, training methods to be used in the home, at
titudes towards choice of a vocation, etc. now generally summed
up under the phrase, "parent education."
5. Providing a cultural program with no necessary emphasis on the
needs of the child, such as musical concerts, lectures on non-
professional subjects, dramatics, entertainments, etc.
6. Providing charitable relief for families of poor in the school district;
providing glasses and shoes, etc., for needy children.
7. Providing scholarships for gifted children. ^ ^
8. Working on a legislative program for better school conditions, new
schools, new playgrounds, playground equipment, increases in
school budget, defense against unnecessary attack of public school
122 The Parent-Teacher Association
9. Providing an understanding of the parents' role in modem educa
tion, the value and opportunities of the P.T.A., of the social re-
sponbilities of parenthood, of parent-child relationship. This
sociological material to be presented through inspirational lectures.
10. Organizing and assisting study groups in child development, the
parent-child relationship, generally known as "parent education."
This objective differs from No. 4 in that it involves intensive study
of bibliography, case-histories, etc. Under the guidance of a pro
fessional or intelligent lay-leader with adequate equipment. No, 4
assumes only that such material will be presented in lecture or dis
cussion form in so far as practicable at the large meetings of the As
11. Cooperating with the educational staff of the school to solve certain
school problems, such as: homework, reading habits, ill-considered
complaints, mistakes occurring through misunderstanding, lack of
friendly relations between teachers and parents.
12. Providing a means for social intercourse between parents and
teachers for the purpose of facilitating acquaintance and building
a partnership between home and school.
13. Helping toward a better understanding of community conditions,
community needs and a community program for child and civic
welfare. This would have to be done in cooperation with other
civic and social organizations.
14. Working to correct physical defects of children through such de
vices as the "Summer Round Up" or others aimed to prepare
children for entering school without physical defects; to insure
better use of existing recreational opportunities; better use of leisure
15. Supporting state and national organizations in their efforts for
equalization of educational opportunities throughout the several
states, for nation-wide reform for favorable legislation for adequate
schools and citizenship.
16. Educating the public as to the Association's program with the idea
of securing public support for the advancement of that program.
Making extensive use of a publicity set-up.
COPY OF CHECK LIST USED TO ANALYZE THE WORK OF
THE TEN CASE STUDIES
Analysis of Parent-Teacher Association
Write fully :
1. Age of Association
2. Size of Association
3. Regular meetings per year
4. Special meetings per year
5. How and why formed? (History)
6. Organization (Personnel) All working? Cooperative? Committee plans,
etc. (Method of work)
7. Per cent of attendance at meetings?
8. Per cent of teachers belonging?
9. Per cent of men belonging?
10. Per cent of homes represented?
11. Does a study of needs determine activities? Ability of personnel to
select important activities?
12. Type of activities:
c) Relation to needs
d) Do they solve your problems?
13. Do you have printed programs?
14. Is budget related to activities?
15. How is money expended? (Financial policy)
16. Is there cooperation between all groups?
a) Any friction? Ever?
17. Wider Outlook affiliated with:
18. Business procedure: sound accounting expenses audited?
19. Philosophy behind organization. Attitude toward progressive Education
20. Is there a real publicity program? Any publications?
21. What is reaction of school?
22. What is reaction of Community? Effect of P.T.A. on Community?
23. Attitude toward lay and professional functions? P.T.A. keep within its
24. How Association works? Study groups. One leader only. Delegate
25. Any help from higher authoritative bodies? National Body, higher
124 The Parent-Teacher Association
26. Help from study and research furnished by school system, State or Na
27. Can you boast of real leadership in your association? Ones who know
and take the lead?
28. Program meeting needs? Is there a balance between Entertainment,
Social, Educational, etc.
29. Is program unified? All energies directed toward one big job?
30. Does P.T.A. institute reforms such as:
6) City reform
c) School support
1) new education
3) pension, etc.
a) To dictate policies of Board or School?
6) To support education and Child Welfare?
c) Assumes a place in body politic? Dynamic?
32. Is interest of members real and unselfish, trying to do worth while things?
33. Do many members drop out? Any record of turnover? Do kindergarten
parents remain members until child graduates?
34. Independent in thought and action?
35. Has Association ever been political?
36. Enumerate major difficulties.
37. Does your plan provide for Education of parents along such lines as: (a)
new education demanded by changes in Society; (6) what the schools are
doing to meet these changes; (c) objectives of education, etc.
38. How are leaders trained?
a) Professional courses (college, etc.)
6) Study groups
c) Instruction from National Headquarters or Central Organization?
39. List desirable changes brought about conclusively by work of P.T.A.
a) Parent education or enlightenment. h) Study of supplies
6) Teachers more friendly z) Fewer complaints
c) Parents more interested in school j)
d) Health program k)
e) Playgrounds 1}
/) Boys clubs m)
g) Equipment n)
Write in other means by which you would check an Association for efficiency
(explain things as fully as you can)
LETTER SENT TO 100 PRESIDENTS OF LOCAL PARENT-TEACHER
ASSOCIATIONS AND 100 SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Please rank in order of importance (1-11) the activities which you and your
Association consider in carrying out your program of work. Mark 1 for the
most important, 2 for the next, etc. A mark of 11 wfll indicate the activity
to which you attach the least significance of the II listed activities. The order
here given is a random one.*
1. Study Groups**
2. Demonstrations of School Work.
3. Program of Parent Education.
4. Study of School Work and Methods.
5. Community Projects.
6. Making Gifts to School
7. Social Intercourse.
9. Study of Child Psychology.
11. Helping to Solve School Problems.
Very truly yours,
STATES FROM W|f ICH QUESTIONNAIRES WERE RECEIVED
New Jersey ......... ^>.*>^JO, Rhode Island ............... 2 *
Pennsylvania ............... 8 South Carolina .............. 2 ^
1 California ................... 7 Virginia ! .................... 2 I
i Louisiana ..... . . ,
-? New York
Delaware . .
.. . 1
Florida . . .
Alabama. . . .
New Hampshire .
*ChiW Welfare listed by some of the Associations in the field was not included because of its
broad concept and because of its inclusion in the eleven activities above.
"""Includes Child Development, Parent-Child Relationship, School Methods, Psychology, etc.
126 The Parent-Teacher Association
PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS USED FOR CASE STUDIES
The ten Parent-Teacher Associations used for case studies were selected
from the following cities:
Hackensack, New Jersey
Mountain View, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
New York, New York
Port Chester, New York
Passaic, New Jersey